The Rare 'Golden Wonder' Salamander Rediscovered After 42 Years In Guatemala Mountains

Ellainie Calangian

A rare species of salamander known as the "Golden Wonder" was spotted alive in Guatemala's Cuchumatanes Mountains after 42 years. The first two salamanders (Bolitoglossa jacksoni) were discovered by two students named Paul Elias and Jeremy Jackson in 1975.

Ramos Leon-Tomas, the park guard of the Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve, found the amphibian. This is only the third time humans have ever seen this type of salamander, according to National Geographic.

Leon-Tomas took a photo of the salamander, which could likely be a juvenile male and sent it to Carlos Vasquez-Almazan, the curator of herpetology at the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. Vasquez-Almazan said that having found this species is like having returned it from extinction. He further said that the momentous discovery could give them hope that they could recover much of the diversity of their forests that they believe has already been lost.

This "Golden Wonder" salamander also known as Jackson's climbing salamander is among the 25 most wanted species on the list of the Global Wildlife Conservation. Vasquez-Almazan has spent more than 3,000 hours and 30 trips since 2005 into the forest in search of this salamander, according to Science Alert.

Vasquez-Almazan and his colleagues thought that they had started to fear that the species was gone. And now that it has returned, it is like a beautiful story for them. This has marked a promised future for the conservation of this area, according to Vasquez-Almazan.

Meanwhile, Jackson was so happy to hear the rediscovery of the salamander. He said that the night he heard the news from Carlos that Bolitoglossa jacksoni had been rediscovered, he flew off the couch where he had been falling asleep and did a little happy dance.

Likewise, Elias said the rediscovery of this rarest of the rare shows how significant habitat reservation is to the persistence of these special animals in these exceptional places. For him, it is a moment of complete and pure joy.