Pharyngula

Beware the frogs

A good way to recover from the fra…fra…frammmm… that topic is to go watch the freaky frogs. If it’s late at night and dark where you are, though, don’t watch them. The first one will creep you out, and the second one will deliver the coup de grace; you won’t be able to get to sleep for fear of the amphibians outside your window.

Comments

  1. #1 forsen
    May 30, 2007

    Those were indeed some nasty froggies. Is that a bull frog in the first video? Fortunately, we only have smaller frogs, toads & salamanders in northern Europe… although sadly no caecilians. Caecilians are underappriciated.

  2. #2 harv
    May 30, 2007

    PZ: There he is!
    King Arthur: Where?
    PZ: There!
    King Arthur: What? Behind the frog?
    PZ: It *is* the frog!
    King Arthur: You silly sod!
    PZ: What?
    King Arthur: You got us all worked up!
    PZ: Well, that’s no ordinary frog.
    King Arthur: Ohh.
    PZ: That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered amphibian you ever set eyes on!
    harv: You tit! I soiled my armor I was so scared!

  3. #3 denise
    May 30, 2007

    hmmmm… Frogs are a lot more like cats than I ever imagined.

  4. #4 Leni
    May 30, 2007

    Ha! I saw that first frog on youtube the other day. It’s not nasty- it’s cute!

  5. #5 Rienk
    May 30, 2007

    Frogs are kinda cute… unfortunately my Xenopux laevis are just plain boring, floating around in their tank as the little egg-bags they are.

  6. #6 CalGeorge
    May 30, 2007

    Ethics alert!

    1) Leave frog #1 alone.
    2) Frog #2 being fed dinner: please consider having the Humane Society visit your next video shoot.

    Register Your Production and Work With Us

    The following steps outline how to earn the American Humane Association’s End Credit Disclaimer “No Animals Were Harmed”?. Certified Animal Safety Representatives oversee animal action on the set, enforcing American Humane’s Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media and intervening on behalf of animal actors when necessary. Following these steps does not guarantee your production will receive American Humane’s End Credit Disclaimer or sign-off letter. However, not following these steps may jeopardize your production’s chances of achieving this important status.

    http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pa_film_register

  7. #7 Fastlane
    May 30, 2007

    You have a porn spammer again. Seems this guy has been making the rounds.

  8. #8 Brownian
    May 30, 2007

    Notice the last frog came in a can labelled ‘chicken’?

    I’d avoid that supermarket if I were you.

  9. #9 Ribozyme
    May 30, 2007

    The last one is actually a toad. From the size, I would say it’s a Bufo marinus.

    It’s funny, the peculiar defense mechanism of the bull frog. When I was little, I used to play with the bull frogs you could catch at some irrigation canals around my hometown, but they were rather silent when handled. When left alone and out of sight, they would sing, making a very loud sound not unlike that of a bull. Other common amphibians have a nastier defense mechanism. In my home garden I used to have some toads (they live perfectly well as long as they have moist soil around), and whenever you take them in your hand, they pee on you…

    If you think the toad was nasty, check this link for a video of a more common house pet amphibian, the Pacman frog, which are rather beautiful and seem very cute until you see them feeding.

  10. #10 Kseniya
    May 30, 2007

    Yikes! Frogs are pretty fierce when it comes to food. So are lizards. Those geckos are so very cute, with their little smiling Flipperesque mouths, but throw a few crickets in there with them and… you’re talkin’ CHOMP.

    For literally tons of toad fun, get your hands on this movie (but be sure to wear gloves and cover your eyes, and… oh, never mind!)

  11. #11 forsen
    May 30, 2007

    Concerning cane toads, rabbits and such… I wonder if humans could be defined as an invasive species as well? A new species which arrives in a biotope, eradicates much of the natural biodiversity and generally f*cks up the entire ecosystem.

  12. #12 Ribozyme
    May 30, 2007

    Thats a vey good one, Forsen. You are probably right. It’s the same way how the blue-green photosynthetic bacteria, that produce oxygen as a waste product, erradicated most of the anaerobic microorganisms that were dominant before them… only those that developed resistance functions to oxygen survived. Later, some found that oxygen, an originally very noxoious substance, could be used to extract more energy from food, and we are their descendants! I wonder what will come out of the current big change…

  13. #13 forsen
    May 30, 2007

    I think it may very well turn the other way around. We’ve come to dominate the planet in a very short time, but we’re still a part of nature, and will always remain so. If we eradicate enough of the other species, we will eventually cut down the very branch we’re sitting on, thus providing our own demise. A few hundred millennia of evolutionary chaos will probably unsure, until the suddenly free niches in the ecosystem are occupied again. Humans will become a short paranthesis in the history of life on Earth – a bunch of hairless prosimians, who became the first intelligent life on earth but crashed and burned faster than many, many other genera. And life on Earth will go on in new, fascinating turns… turns which we won’t be there to see. At least, that’s what I hope.

  14. #14 forsen
    May 30, 2007

    Hairless _simians_ that is, ofc… as much as I fancy lemurs.

  15. #15 CCP
    May 30, 2007

    For an excellent rumination on the post-human biosphere, see this essay by David Quammen: “Hope is a duty from which paleontologists are exempt.”

    Kseniya, that clip of the cane toad (yes, Ribozyme, it’s B. marinus) eating the mouse is from that most excellent film you recommend.

    And yes, that first one is a bullfrog–that’s its release call.

  16. #16 David Livesay
    May 30, 2007

    Ribozyme,

    I agree, that fellow engulfing the mouse definitely looks like a cane toad. By the way, the distinction between frogs and toads is not an actual phylogenetic one. It’s more a description of their lifestyle than anything. But the cane toad belongs to the family Bufonidae, of which all species are considered toads, so they’re about as toady as they come.

    If you thought your toads were nasty, don’t pick up a cane toad. They’ll do worse than pee on you. They have these big glands at the back of the head that secrete bufotoxin.

  17. #17 David Livesay
    May 30, 2007

    Kseniya,

    I saw that film years ago and loved it. The one scene I’ll never forget was where the guy was driving down the road in his microbus, swerving to run over the cane toads. Pop! Pop! I don’t think he was under any illusion that it would make a serious dent in the population, but he just hated the damned things so much he couldn’t resist.

  18. #18 David Livesay
    May 30, 2007

    By the way, there are no frogs outside my window anymore.

    As a kid I remember going out to catch leopard frogs in the tall grass behind my house, and every night the spring peepers would put on a chorus. Every summer I’d find little pollywogs in the mud puddles in the road and bring a handful of them home in a paper cup and keep them in an aquarium and watch them change into frogs. It seemed like they were always ubiquitous. One year my family spent the summer near Boston, and for the first couple of weeks we were there, there were tiny brown frogs all over the place, so thick you couldn’t avoid stepping on them.

    But now I hardly see frogs anymore. I’ve forgotten what a spring peeper sounds like. I can still hear the bullfrogs down at the pond near my house, but I rarely see them, and I never see leopard frogs anymore. Maybe it’s the pollution or the climate change, or maybe I just don’t have time for them anymore, but I miss them.

  19. #19 forsen
    May 31, 2007

    CCP, muchas gracias for the link… that was actually one of the better science essays I’ve ever read. Its the most bleak and disturbing vision of the imminent future, but the good news are that it will probably only last for a few million years.

    Given some thought though, it’s rly quite obvious stuff. Only hardy, generalist, weedy species survive mass extinctions, the paradigm shifts in nature, to then branch off into speciation over the following millions of years. It’s exactly what happened during the K-T event. Only weedy species such as the rodent-like mammals survived it, to subsequently branch off into today’s bioological diversity, with a highly specialized fauna.

    I’m afraid his idea that the weedy humans will survive is more realistic than my hope that we’ll be gone in a few thousand years. On the other hand, a cataclysmic ELE would probably force us through a rather grave population bottleneck, and we wouldn’t dominate the earth in the same way again… at least not initially. *shrugs* I damn well hope humanity will go down the drain as well.

  20. #20 Kseniya
    May 31, 2007

    Why not hope that humanity gets its act together, and stops peeing in the punchbowl?

  21. #21 forsen
    May 31, 2007

    That would ofc be great, although I highly doubt that would happen until it’s too late… guess I’m kinda neo-Malthusian when it comes to these things.

  22. #22 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    Only weedy species such as the rodent-like mammals

    By far not all of them, muahah. Most of the most rodent-like ones died out.

  23. #23 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    Only weedy species such as the rodent-like mammals

    By far not all of them, muahah. Most of the most rodent-like ones died out.

  24. #24 Kseniya
    May 31, 2007

    Ok Forsen, I see. I feared that you were a misanthrope of the highest order, but I now see you’re simply a realist pessimist. I can respect that. 🙂

  25. #25 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    “The optimist believes he lives in the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist knows it.”

  26. #26 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    “The optimist believes he lives in the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist knows it.”

  27. #27 forsen
    May 31, 2007

    By far not all of them, muahah. Most of the most rodent-like ones died out.

    True. To compare to a future ELE – many endemic rodent species, such as Rattus Adustus or Mus Cypriacus, will probably perish. The ones who will survive, and provide the basis for future speciation, are cosmopolitan species such as the brown rat or house mouse – widespread, hardy, and very adaptional.

  28. #28 forsen
    May 31, 2007

    Heheh. At times I feel pretty misanthropic, at least concerning humans (what a tautology). At my very darkest, my view on the human impact on nature actually ain’t that far from Agent Smith’s famous monologue:

    “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren’t actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.”

    I do not doubt that we are mammals, but you get the idea. Humans have been the most successful invasive species in the history of the planet, and the most disastrous as well. If we won’t manage to get our shit together, we’ll provide our own demise faster than we think. And if we won’t change, I think we pretty much deserve it. We had it coming for a long time.

  29. #29 CCP
    May 31, 2007

    At least there will be crows. (Barring increased virulence of West Nile virus.)

  30. #30 Rey Fox
    May 31, 2007

    Thbbt. That was probably my least favorite part of that movie. A lecture on ecology from an agent of the artificial intelligence that had turned the Earth into a huge energy-raising farm for the machines? Puh-lease.

  31. #31 Rey Fox
    May 31, 2007

    And at any rate, the development of a “natural equilibrium” only happens after a species reaches its carrying capacity and starts dying off. Nothing “instinctual” about it. The only difference humans have is that they’re creative and industrious enough to alter the environment to increase their own carrying capacity.

  32. #32 forsen
    May 31, 2007

    Sure, the Wachowski Bros are far from being scientific purists. Still, I think the basic premise that humans wreak havoc on most ecosystems they embark on (as with all successful invasive species) is pretty valid.

  33. #33 Rey Fox
    May 31, 2007

    Well, sure. But I still think it was a preachy and tacked-on digression that wasn’t even consistant with the rest of the movie.

  34. #34 forsen
    May 31, 2007

    Inconsistent? I have a hard time thinking of any modern films more preachy than the Matrix trilogy (Would be Passion of the Christ, then). On the other hand, I think its quite in line with it’s amalgam of buddhism, religious imaginery, messianic myths and dystopic cyperpunk fantasy. To be fair, the preachiness wasn’t nearly as extensive in the first film though.

  35. #35 Baratos
    May 31, 2007

    Thbbt. That was probably my least favorite part of that movie. A lecture on ecology from an agent of the artificial intelligence that had turned the Earth into a huge energy-raising farm for the machines? Puh-lease.

    Well, Morpheus said the humans started it by blocking out the sun. So I doubt there was very much ecology to save (sorry tube worms, nobody cares about you).

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