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2017’s Top Lost Species Rediscoveries Spur Hope for Future Quests

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Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) changed its name to Re:wild in 2021

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Lost Species Rediscoveries

For immediate release

December 26, 2017

A faceless deep-sea fish. A moth masquerading as a bee. A “bitey” boa. A mop-topped monkey. These are the quirky features of some of the incredible lost species rediscoveries reported in 2017 around the world. Global Wildlife Conservation’s Search for Lost Species initiative tracked the stories of at least nine lost species actually found this year and at least nine lost species rediscoveries announced in 2017 (but rediscovered in earlier years).

“Each of these rediscoveries gives us hope not just for the species that have been found, but that nature is resilient and some of these other species that we fear might be extinct are actually still out there,” said Don Church, GWC president and Search for Lost Species lead. “These are the good news stories that will fuel our passion going into the new year as we continue our quest to find and protect the species that demonstrate time and time again how truly astonishing our wild world is.”

GWC’s nominations for top lost species rediscoveries of 2017:

  • Jackson’s climbing salamander (Guatemala): Guatemala’s “golden wonder” is the first of the Search for Lost Species campaign’s top 25 “most wanted” species to resurface when a reserve guard stumbled across the amphibian months before a planned expedition. Lost since its discovery in 1975, the salamander was found on the edge of a GWC-funded reserve, which will now be expanded.
  • Vanzolini’s bald-faced saki (Brazil): When Houseboat Amazon set sail in early 2017, the team aimed to become the first in 80 years to see a living Vanzolini’s bald-faced saki monkey, a fur ball of a primate with a conspicuous Beatles-like haircut. Not only did the team find the monkey, they broadcast their expedition in near real-time.
  • Oriental blue clearwing (Malaysia): When entomologist Marta Skowron Volponi saw the flash of blue on the riverbanks of Taman National Park, she knew she had found something new—or at least rare. It turned out to be the Oriental blue clearwing, known from only one damaged specimen collected in 1887. The clearwing moth looks and flies like a bee, and may even buzz like one, too.
  • Faceless fish (Australia): When the Museums Victoria scientists and partners emerged from a voyage of deep-sea discovery, they brought with them an impressive variety of weird and wonderful deep-sea creatures, including a faceless fish that hadn’t been seen since 1873. The bizarre-looking fish has no visible eyes, and its mouth is hidden underneath its body.
  • Cropan’s boa (Brazil): Farmers trained to look for the world’s rarest boa discovered the first live animal since 1953—a 5.5-foot long female in a Brazilian forest. This is the first individual observed in the wild, and scientists from the University of São Paulo’s Museum of Zoology and the Butantan Institute have put a radio transmitter on the snake to learn about its movements.
  • Táchira Antpitta (Venezuela): The Táchira Antpitta is a plump brown bird that had been feared lost since 1956. Scientists from the Red Siskin initiative this year announced the rediscovery of the bird. The team traveled by foot on steep and narrow Andean trails in the dark to reach the bird’s habitat by dawn, when team members heard the distinctive song of an antpitta they had never heard before.

“Many of these species sound like they come straight out of fantasy novels, and their seemingly fanciful stories capture the imaginations of people around the world,” said Robin Moore, GWC communications director and Search for Lost Species lead. “We hope that these rediscoveries mark a new chapter that includes the conservation of these species and those that share their habitat.”

The Search for Lost Species will continue in 2018 with several expeditions to find and protect the initiative’s top 25 “most wanted” species, in addition to helping share the stories of rediscoveries from around the world. Visit the Search for Lost Species’ newsroom for more stories about this year’s rediscoveries.

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Photos: Vanzolini’s bald-faced saki photo by Marcelo Ismar Santana; Jackson’s climbing salamander by Carlos Vásquez Almazán (download salamander images); Oriental blue clearwing photo by Marta Skowron Volponi (download clearwing images)

The Search for Lost Species

The Search for Lost Species, a Global Wildlife Conservation initiative, is the largest-ever global quest to find and protect species that have not been seen in the wild in decades. collaboration with more than 100 scientists, GWC has compiled a list of 1,200 species of animals and plants that are missing to science. From this list, GWC has teased the top 25 “most wanted” species in the world. Quirky, charismatic and elusive, these species are global flagships for conservation. Learn more at

Global Wildlife Conservation

GWC conserves the diversity of life on Earth by safeguarding wildlands, protecting wildlife and supporting guardians. We maximize our impact through scientific research, biodiversity exploration, habitat conservation, protected area management, wildlife crime prevention, endangered species recovery, and conservation leadership cultivation. Learn more at


Lindsay Renick Mayer

Global Wildlife Conservation


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