Endangered, Extinct, and Exotic Animals

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Endangered, Extinct, and Exotic Animals was a new trial event for both Division B and Division C in New York and Texas for the 2013 season, and is scheduled to be run as a trial event at the 2015 National Competition. Also known as Triple E or EEE, it tests competitors on their knowledge of endangered, extinct, and exotic animals. As well as identification, questions may be given on the causes and effects of changes in biodiversity and the effects the introduction of invasive species have on environments.


Event Overview

Competitors are expected to recognize all of the organisms on the official taxa list, which can be found on the second page of this document: [1]. Of these organisms, competitors are expected to know possible reasons as to why endangered and extinct animals reached their individual respective status, how introduced and invasive species were likely introduced to an area, and how their introduction could impact the area's biodiversity.

This event is given either in timed stations, as a test, or as a PowerPoint. Students are given either pictures or information for identification purposes and then asked questions about the specific organisms. Twenty 3”x5” index cards, with no published information or photographs, held together by a single ring, are the only materials allowed.

New York Version

For New York, questions will be limited to the species on the official New York List, which can be found on the second and third pages of these documents: Division B-[2] Division C-[3]. Each team is allowed one secure three ring binder with any information (from any sources).

Texas Version

In Texas, questions will be limited to the species on the official Texas List, which can be found on the third and fourth page of this document: Division B-[4]. Twenty-five 3”x5” index cards, with no published information or photographs, held together by a single ring, are the only materials allowed.

NOTE: All following species are from the National list.


Topeka Shiner (Notropis topeka)



The Topeka Shiner is a small minnow that lives in the prairie streams of the central United States. It is a shiny silver color and has a characteristic black colored stripe running along the side of its body. The states it lives in include Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The prairie streams it lives in are typically slow moving, have good water quality, and have a cool to moderate temperature. Instead of building their own nests, Topeka shiners share nests with orange-spotted or green sunfish. The main threat to these fish is changes to the water in which they live. Any activity, such as building projects, that increases silt is dangerous to the fish, as their food source and eggs can be buried.

Pallid Sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus)



The pallid sturgeon has a flattened snout, long tail, rows of bony plates, and grayish white back and sides, giving it a dinosaur-like appearance. They do not have teeth; instead, they suck up small fish and invertebrates from the river bottom. It can weigh up to 80 pounds and reach 6 feet in length. They live close to the bottoms of large, silty rivers such as the Missouri River, where they are now scarce. Males reach sexual maturity in 7-9 years, while females reach sexual maturity in 7-15 years. Pallid sturgeons are estimated to be able to live for up to 50 years. Reasons for their decline include channelizing of their river habitat, dams, and commercial fishing.

Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)



Paddlefish are primitive fish that inhabit large, slow-moving, freshwater rivers such as the Mississippi River. They have been in North America since the Cretaceous Period (65 million years ago). Similarly to sharks, their skeleton is made of cartilage, not bone, and are characterized by a large, elongated rostrum. They are an average of 1.5 m long (4.9 ft), weigh up to 27 kg (60 lb), and can live at least 30 years. Paddlefish are filter feeders that mainly feed on plankton (planktivorous). The main reason of their decline is overfishing and habitat destruction, but they are also exploited for their eggs, which can be used to make caviar. Additionally, zebra mussel infestations can filter out all of the plankton, causing the fish to have a very limited diet.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnas thynnus)



The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is one of the largest species of tuna, weighing up to 1500 pounds, reaching 10 feet in length, and living up to 30 years. Their body can be described as a spindle shape, with a pointed snout. The belly, sides, and cheeks are silvery, while the dorsal side is a dark blue. Although it can contain high levels of mercury and PCBs, the bluefin is prized in sushi for its high oil content. One of its unique adaptations is called a "concurrent exchanger": a type of blood vessel that allows this fish to maintain a body temperature that is higher than the ocean's. This allows it to move quickly, and is one reason why it is an apex predator. Its diet consists of fish like herring and anchovy, and sometimes cephalopods. The main reason for the bluefin's decline is overfishing, because of the high price it can fetch, and oil spills such as the Deepwater Horizon spill.


NOTE: Questions are about shark species as a whole, not individual species.

Sharks are a group of fish in the class Chondrichthyes characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, 5-7 gill slits, and pectoral fins not fused to the head. Most sharks, except those like the bull/river shark, live in seawater; the bull and river shark live in freshwater. They have dermal denticles (essentially small "teeth" on their skin) that prevent parasites and improve fluid dynamics. Sharks have teeth that are replaced throughout their lives. They have well developed senses of taste and smell. They are endangered mainly due to overfishing for commercial and recreational reasons, but are sometimes culled to "protect" humans.

Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua)



The Atlantic cod is a greenish-brown fish with a light lateral line, a noticeable barbel, and 3 prominent dorsal and 2 prominent anal fins. They can live up to 25 years, becoming sexually mature around years 2-4. The Atlantic cod is an apex predator, feeding mainly on crustaceans and fish such as mackerel. Due to overfishing, the population of cod has collapsed. As a result of a lack of a predator, the cod's prey's populations have increased.

Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar)



The Atlantic salmon, also known as black salmon, is the longest and heaviest fish of the genus Salmo. While living in freshwater, they have blue and red spots; as an adult, they are silvery-blue and have characteristic black spots above the lateral line. The young feed on invertebrates such as stoneflies; as adults, they feed on herring, shrimp, Arctic squid, and more. Although most Atlantic salmon travel to the ocean then travel back to freshwater to spawn (salmon run), there have been documented cases of freshwater-only Atlantic salmon. These fish were overfished for commercial and recreational purposes, but are beginning to re-establish populations.

Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans)



The blue marlin (also known as Atlantic blue marlin) has a blue-black top with a silvery underside, and about 15 rows of pale stripes on each side. It is characterized by a long bill with many fine teeth which it uses to stab, stun, injure, and kill its prey. They weigh up to 350 pounds for males and 1810 pounds for females, and live up to 18 and 27 years respectively. Their diet consists of fish such as mackerel, tuna, and squid. Due to its high fat content, the blue marlin is prized in Japan for use in sashimi. However, it is often accidentally caught in tuna fishing. They are overfished not only for commercial reasons like sushi, but are also a popular game fish. The blue marlin was also featured in Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.


Inyo Mountains Salamander (Batrachoseps campi)



The Inyo Mountains Salamander is endemic to California, in the Inyo Mountains, as its name suggests. They are a silvery-green color, have a broad headed, rounded snout, large eyes, and 16-18 costal grooves (the grooves between ribs where nerves and blood vessels are). They are about 1.3-2.4 inches in length. Unlike other California salamanders, the Inyo Mountains salamander has four toes on the front and hind feet (other species have 5). They do not breathe through lungs; rather, they respirate through their skin, meaning that they must live in damp areas, such as near springs or seepage areas. They have naso-labial grooves (slits between the nostrils and lip that assist in chemoreception). These salamanders lay their eggs on land, and the young hatch into terrestrial salamanders. They are nocturnal, consume mainly small invertebrates, and have the ability to detach their tails in case of emergency. They are endangered because of the limited and fragile habitat, which is also affected by mining operations, flooding, and cattle grazing.

Wyoming Toad (Bufo baxteri)

NOTE: This species is now classified as Anaxyrus baxteri, but the official Science Olympiad species list should be followed.



The Wyoming toad used to be found in the Laramie plains in Albany County, Wyoming. In the late 1970s, their population dropped significantly, and they now exist only in captivity and the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The Wyoming toad is dark green, brown, or gray, with small dark markings on its underside. The males have a dark throat, and the females are larger than the males. They hibernate from early October to early May. The Wyoming toad is active at night, but relies on prey movement to hunt, because of its poor eyesight. Wyoming toads have sensitive skin; as a result, they are easily infected by the chytrid fungus. Also, they do not readily adapt to rapid changes in climate or water. Current conservation efforts focus on captive breeding and the elimination of the chytrid fungus.

Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa)



The Mountain Yellow-legged frog is endemic to California, specifically the San Jacinto, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel Mountains. They can also be found in the Southern Sierra Nevada. Recently, some populations in the Southern Sierra Nevada have been reclassified into R. sierrae. The Mountain Yellow-legged frog is 4-8.9 centimeters long, yellow/brown/olive, and has black and brown markings. Occasionally its thighs are light orange/yellow. When handled, they emit an odor that is described as similar to garlic. The tadpoles are brown with some gold and black spots. It is a diurnal frog that lives within a few meters of a water source like a creek, usually in a sunny area. The call is short and rasps up at the end, and is mainly done underwater. Its diet consists of small invertebrates such as beetles and ants. The decline of the Mountain Yellow-legged frog is believed to be because of introduced trout that eat tadpoles, pesticides from agricultural areas, and the chytrid fungus. Current conservation efforts focus on captive breeding and chytrid fungus inoculation in captivity to increase immunity.

Dusky Gopher Frog (Rana sevosa)

NOTE: This species is also classified as Lithobates sevosus, but the official Science Olympiad list should be followed.



The Dusky Gopher frog, also known as the Mississippi Gopher frog, is a true frog endemic to the Southern United States. It is a medium-sized black/gray/brown frog, covered in dark spots or warts, that is about 8 cm long. The Dusky Gopher frog lives for 6-10 years, and requires about 80-180 days to mature as a tadpole. The male frog's call is described as similar to a human's snore. These frogs have several unique features. When threatened or exposed to bright light, they cover their eyes with their hands, inflate their body, and secrete a bitter, milky fluid. They react quickly to external pathogens by synthesizing and secreting antimicrobial peptides that target external pathogens. They live in sandy areas with abundant ground covers and return to wetlands to breed. Their previous habitat was along the Gulf Coastal Plain in lower Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, but are now only found near two ponds in Mississippi. Their diet is assumed to consist of frogs, insects, spiders, and earthworms. They are naturally threatened by predators such as turtles, birds, and snakes, and are also affected by the chytrid fungus. They are also threatened by fire suppression tactics, because fires are needed to maintain an open canopy, genetic isolation and inbreeding, and proposed residential developments that would fragment their habitat even more.

Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog (Rana subaquavocalis)

NOTE: The Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog is now believed to be part of the Chiricahua Leopard Frog species (Lithobates chiricahuensis), but the official Science Olympiad list should be followed. This section will continue to refer to it as the Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog.



The Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog is endemic to Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico near sources of water such as creeks. It has a distinctive pattern of small, cream-colored, raised spots on its thigh and a green head and back. Its call sounds like a 1-2 second snore. The main danger to it is currently the chytrid fungus and habitat loss. There have not been many studies done on these frogs; as a result, there is not much information on them.

Macaya Burrowing Frog (Eleutherodactylus parapelates)



The Macaya Burrowing Frog, also known as the Casillon robber frog, is endemic to the Massif de la Hotte, a mountain range in Southwestern Haiti. Adult males are around 48.9 millimeters long, and the female length is unknown. It is a dark brown to tan color with dark spots. The fingers and toes have elongated tips and the toes and unwebbed. It is a fossorial species, meaning that it is adapted to digging and living underground. Its habitat and population is threatened by logging for charcoal product and slash-and-burn agriculture. There are currently no conservation efforts.

Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki)



The Panamanian Golden Frog is a species of toad that inhabits the Cordilleran cloud forests of Panama. It is also known as Zetek's golden frog, which, along with "zeteki", refers to the entomologist James Zetek. It is a light yellow-bright gold toad, and most members have black spots on the backs and legs. All members have elongated arms and legs, and males have webbed first and second fingers. When mating season occurs, the males have dark brown areas on their first fingers that are referred to as "nuptial pads". The sexes can be distinguished by size; males are smaller than females. The Panamanian Golden Frog lives up to 12 years, and typically mate between November and January. This species establishes its territory by waving its hands and feet, distinguishing it from other species. It mainly feeds on small invertebrates and is capable of releasing water soluble toxins. Their toxin has been used by natives for poison on arrows. They are threatened by human development and the chytrid fungus, and there are currently captive breeding programs focused on conservation. It is a national symbol of Panama.

Puerto Rican Crested Toad (Peltophryne lemur)



The Puerto Rican Crested Toad is native to and only found in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It has a pebble-textured skin, golden eyes, and a characteristic upturned snout. Males are greenish-gold, while females are a dull brown. Unlike males, females have more textured skin and a noticeable crest above the eye. They are nocturnal, and have been recorded to live up to 10 years in captivity. Their diet mainly consists of small insects and snails. It takes about 18 days to mature into a toadlet. They live in rocky areas of the seasonal evergreen forest. The main reason fir their decline is the destruction of habitat, but introduced rats and mongoose have also had a detrimental effect on the population. Conservation efforts focusing on captive breeding and re-introduction appear to be successful.

Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias japonicas)

NOTE: Although all other resources list this species' name as Andrias japonicus, the official list has Andrias japonicas, which may be a typo.



The Japanese Giant Salamander is endemic to Japan and is known there as Ōsanshōuo (大山椒魚), literally translating to "giant pepper fish". More specifically, it inhabits the rivers of the northern Kyushu island and western Honshu. It can grow up to 1.5 meters long (5 feet) and 25 kg (55 lb), surpassed only by the Chinese Giant Salamander. It can be distinguished from the Chinese Giant Salamander by the larger number of tubercles on the head/throat, more rounded snout, and shorter tail. The Japanese Giant Salamander has an elongated, mottled gray/black/cream, wrinkly body, a long broad tail, and two pairs of legs. It has tiny eyes on the top of its head, giving the salamander poor vision. Because it cannot see well, it relies on touch and smell to hunt for prey, which it does at night. Its prey includes fish, other salamanders, insects, and snails. However, due to its low metabolism, it can survive without eating for a few weeks. Additionally, its smooth skin acts as a respiratory surface. They can give off a milky substance that smells like peppers when threatened, leading to its Japanese name. It is threatened by silting of rivers, pollution, and hunting (its flesh is a delicacy). Breeding programs have been established in some zoos.

Table Mountain Ghost Frog (Heleophryne rosei)



The Table Mountain Ghost Frog, also known as Rose's Ghost Frog, is found only on the Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. It is very small (females grow up to 60 mm long, males to 50 mm), with a mottled green/purple/red-brown color. It swims well due to its fully webbed hind legs and also has spatulate toes that allow it to grip rocky substrates. During the mating season, both sexes grow spiny structures and males grow extra folds to increase oxygen take. Its diet mainly consists of small insects. Its total habitat is in an area no larger than 8 km2 on the southern and eastern slopes of the Table Mountain. The increase of alien vegetation like pines and poplars creates areas of stagnant water, and the construction of dams reduces the water flow as well. The stagnant water may reduce tadpole population, because the tadpoles need flowing water for a full year. Cases of the chytrid fungus have been found in this species, so conservation efforts currently focus on preventing the spread of the fungus. Research is also being done to estimate the population size to develop a better conservation plan.


Sea Turtles

NOTE: Questions are about sea turtle species as a whole, not individual species.

Jamaican Boa (Epicrates subflavus)

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

Indigo Snake (Drymarchon melanurus)

Giant Madagascar Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus)

Philipine Crocodile (Crocodilus mindorensis)

False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii)

Ploughshare Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora)

Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)

Giant Garter Snake (Thamnophis gigas)

Red River Soft Shell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei)

Cuban Rock Iguana (Cyclura nublia)

Grand Caymen Iguana (Cyclura lewisi)

Aruba Island Rattlesnake (Crotalus unicolor)

King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)


Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes)

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Grey Wolf (Canis lupus)

Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)


NOTE: Students do not need to know tiger subspecies.

Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla & G. beringei)

Orangutan (Pongo abelii & P. pygmaeus)

Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus)

Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

Little Brown Bat (Myotis spp.)


Whooping Crane (Grus americana)

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)

Least Tern (Sterna antillarum)

Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis)

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)

Introduced and Invasive Species

Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis)

Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)

Burmese Python (Python molurus)

Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus)

Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodiles)

Feral Pigs (Sus scrofa)

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Lionfish (Pterois volitans)

Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Common Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Laws and Regulations

Endangered Species Act

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

Lacey Act


Trial Event Rules