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People banded together to find the world's loneliest frog true love — and it might have just worked.
Photo by Robin Moore, Global Wildlife Conservation.

Perhaps the story of Romeo and Juliet doesn’t have to end in tragedy after all.

At least not for the frogs who go by the same names as those famous star-crossed lovers.  

Still, avoiding a tragic ending for these special frogs hasn’t been easy. The species almost went extinct forever.


Romeo is a Sehuencas water frog (Telmatobius yuracare), an aquatic species unique to the cloud forests of Bolivia, that for the last decade, was known as the “world’s loneliest frog.”

He had been living all alone in an enclosure at the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny in Bolivia. A team of scientist had brought him into captivity in 2008 with the hopes of creating a conservation breeding program for his species because they were witnessing amphibian population crashes in the region due to a deadly pathogen called chytrid, habitat loss, pollution and climate change.  

“The decline in this species was sudden and somewhat unexpected,” explains Christopher Jordan, the Central America and Tropical Andes Coordinator for Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC). “By the time biologists realized there was a problem, the species was already very difficult to find.”

Photo by Thiago Garcia.

In the 10 years since  Romeo’s capture in the wild, no biologist was able to find a single other Seheuncas water frog in the wild. They began to fear that Romeo was the last living member of his species.

For years, Romeo called out for a mate from his enclosure. Then in 2017, he stopped. Fearing he’d lost hope, his museum caretakers knew they had to try and do something.

So in February 2018, just before Valentines Day, GWS, Match and the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative launched an international campaign (along with a Match profile and a Romeo twitter account) to raise $15,000 for scientific expeditions into the Bolivian cloud forests to make a desperate search for a girlfriend.

And it worked.

People all over the world fell in love with Romeo and rallied to help save his species. Romeo became a local star in his hometown of Cochabamba — and around the world too.

Before long, the campaign raised $25,000 from people in more than 32 countries — enough to fund several field expeditions.

And as soon as the Bolivian rainy season began (when the frogs are more likely to be spotted swimming in streams), a team of researchers embarked on their first search expeditions. They spent whole days scouring rivers and streams, then camped overnight in the cold, rainy forests.

And then finally, they found frogs.

Juliet with Teresa Camacho Badani.

To be precise, they found five: three males and two females.

“I could not believe it,” says Teresa Camacho, the leader of these expeditions who is also head of the herpetology department at the Natural History museum where Romeo calls home. “Seeing one of these frogs in the wild after 10 years was wonderful — even more so after having seen Romeo alone for so long.”

Back at the museum, the team built special habitats for their new residents and began monitoring them carefully before introducing them to Romeo.

They have to make sure that these frogs haven’t been exposed to the deadly disease that has wiped out much of the species and that they are healthy.  “We want to make sure that nothing we do harms the frogs at the Museum and will thus [we] take every precautionary measure necessary before introducing Romeo and Juliet.”

But so far, says Teresa, “Romeo’s friends are doing well and eating well” and they plan to keep all of Romeo and Juliet’s supporters updated on when the romantic meeting will happen and how it goes.

The team still has four remaining expeditions ahead in search of more frogs — but their success so far is great news for the species.

The plan is to try to learn as much as possible about the distribution of the species, their ecology and whether frogs are developing a resistance to disease. They also plan to launch a conservation breeding program if they can get Romeo and Juliet to mate, which will hopefully result in a reintroduction program for the species.

Of course, there is still a lot of research and work that needs to be done before they get to that stage, but finding the frogs has given new hope to the scientists.

“In the context of the current mass extinction that we humans are causing worldwide,” says Christopher Jordan, “Romeo and Juliet constitute a beacon of hope that show us that there is still time to protect the amazing diversity of life that we share with this planet."

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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