Attenborough's Long-beaked Echidna_Alexis Rockman.jpg

Jackson’s Climbing Salamander

scientific name: Bolitoglossa jacksoni

Last seen: 1975 in Guatemala

Years lost: 42

When Paul Elias discovered the Jackson’s Climbing Salamander in the mid-1970s, he named it after colleague Jeremy Jackson and called it the “golden wonder” because of its astounding beauty. The species has not been seen since, and eluded a 2014 expedition that GWC launched with Elias and Jackson to retrace their steps four decades later. This is an elusive cloud forest species, possibly a canopy dweller. If it is not extinct, it is adept at escaping human attention.

UPDATE (10/30/17): The Jackson's Climbing Salamander is the first of the Search for Lost Species' top 25 "most wanted" species to be found. 

A Closer Look:

We called it the ‘golden wonder.’ I found the first one under a sheet of bark in a field and, after collecting in this field for weeks without success it was obviously something unusual. What the few photos of the Jackson’s Climbing Salamander that exist don’t show is the brilliance and depth of the coloration. It was an exceptionally beautiful animal.” –Jeremy Jackson

In 2014, Paul Elias and Jeremy Jackson returned to the Cuchumatanes Mountain range of Guatemala nearly 40 years after they had discovered three new species of salamander there—the Jackson’s Climbing Salamander, the Finca Chiblac Salamander and the Long-limbed Salamander. They hoped to catch a glimpse of the previously rediscovered Finca Chiblac Salamander and the Long-limbed Salamander and were in luck on that trip, though the Jackson’s Climbing Salamander remained elusive. 

The following year, a consortium of international groups—including Global Wildlife Conservation and local NGO FUNDAECO—joined together to protect some of the last remaining forest home of the three rare salamander species, establishing a reserve called the Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve. The reserve is home to a treasure trove of amphibian species, including the recently discovered Cuchumatan Golden Toad and the beautiful Black-eyed Treefrog. Elias and Jackson discovered Jackson’s Climbing Salamander within a few hundred meters of the reserve’s current borders. 

The Jackson’s Climbing Salamander is a beautiful species and unique in that it has the inverse coloration of all of the other species in the Mexicana group of salamanders. Rather than black with yellow bands, the Jackson’s Climbing Salamander is yellow with black bands.