It’s only right that the so-called extinct Hula painted frog was found in an Israeli pond in 2011, considering that frogs falling from the sky in an apocalyptic, helter-skelter fashion is the sort of story that only the Bible could create and Paul Thomas Anderson could copy. Unfortunately, no one has claimed (yet!) that the frog arrived in Israel’s Hula Valley by means of a biblical downpour. Instead, scientists just discovered that the frog is a living fossil, a species that hasn’t changed since past geologic periods and also has no living relatives.
Hula Valley, known as Merom in the Bible as the location where Joshua defeated the Canaanites, was drained in the 1950s after being deemed a malaria cesspool, but portions of it were later re-flooded, restored, and named a nature reserve. No one had seen the frog in more than 50 years until park ranger Yoram Malka saw the little guy hopping across the road in 2011 and since then more have been seen in that one swamp.
If you’re into frogs, the cutest of the amphibian class, this could be the greatest discovery of recent Israeli history, but it isn’t the only one. Here are some other recent ancient findings in the region:
A Bronze-Aged donkey sacrifice was found in Tel Haror near Gaza.
A 6,000-year-old carved penis sculpture and an engraving of what looked like female genitalia were found in the northern city of Karmiel.
Eight ancient teeth were found in a cave east of Tel Aviv (perhaps CSI Tel Aviv can use them to solve a Neanderthal murder mystery).
A pot of gold coins was found in Apollonia National Park near the city of Arsuf.
Slightly grimmer, the polio virus was found in the sewage near Rahat in the Negev.
While the spotted-bellied frog enjoys his new title as a living fossil, let’s hope no one confuses him for a Mossad agent.
The rediscovered Hula painted frog is a living fossil [Nature Communications]