Christmas cheer at Tet Zoo

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If you're on my hallowed List of Correspondents you'll already have received the image here as an attachment (and at slightly higher resolution: email me if you want a higher-res version). For the other several thousand of you, happy Christmas and all that. I've never been one to bother with paper Christmas cards, so the digital revolution gave me a good excuse to create senseless tat and send it round to my friends, ostensibly in the spirit of Christmas. For a previous effort you can see the 2006 card on ver 1 here (the 2005 card used to be viewable at Steve Bodio's Querencia but is no longer there, oh well). Tet Zoo is not yet shutting down for Christmas, if you're wondering. There's more anuran stuff to get through yet, among other things. And what did we see in the field yesterday? Well, quite a lot. I'll wait for Neil to post his photos.

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What... IS that strange looking little beastie?

It's a sphere with a tail! That's too cool. :)

For those who don't get the joke, the round frog mimicking a Christmas pudding is a rain-holding frog Breviceps adspersus, previously featured here. Thanks to all for their festive wishes.

What can you tell us about the parasite that's attacking tadpoles, hemisphere-wide? (I understand that it has hardly any more legs than a snake, but that's many fewer than a ladybug, and it's driving anurans to extinction.) I see a claim that it's somehow basal to both animals and fungi, but not plants, which boggles my tiny mind.

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

More anurans? Seriously?

Dude, can't we have some more of those yummy crappy-little-murid posts instead?

Oh, and a very happy Christmas to you. (Card to follow.)

Ah, so that's what a Christmas pudding looks like... :-)

It's a sphere with a tail!

That's not a tail, it's the left hindleg.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 17 Dec 2007 #permalink

Darrne, Merry Christmas!

Thank you for showing this mischief of a frog pumped with air by African schoolchildren. ;-)

By Jerzy or Jurek (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Sorry Darren, Merry Christmas, again!

By Jerzy or Jurek (not verified) on 18 Dec 2007 #permalink

Fine. But "It's a sphere with a left hind leg" doesn't have nearly the ring. Though it does sound even more absurd. :)

Nathan asked:

What can you tell us about the parasite that's attacking tadpoles, hemisphere-wide? (I understand that it has hardly any more legs than a snake, but that's many fewer than a ladybug, and it's driving anurans to extinction.) I see a claim that it's somehow basal to both animals and fungi, but not plants, which boggles my tiny mind.

I don't know about mind-boggling - it's pretty well-established now that animals and fungi are more closely related to each other than either is to plants or most other eukaryotes. Animals and fungi, as well as a few protozoan taxa, form a clade called opisthokonts, one of the most obvious features of which is that the flagellum of cells that have one is attached at the back end of the organism rather than at the front as in other eukaryotes.

While I'm not certain if it's the one you're referring to, the main villain that's been talked about in killing frogs lately is a species of chytrids. Chytrids are basal (paraphyletic) fungi, but differ from other fungi in retaining a flagellated spore in the life cycle (other fungi are entirely non-motile).