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Frogs

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MatC
316434.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:46 am Reply with quote

Do we want to look at the Fortean Fenomenon of Frog Falls at all (ie, frogs falling from the sky), or do we think that’s too Familiar?

 
MatC
316458.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:08 am Reply with quote

Of the Green Tree Frog (an American species) it has long been noted that

Quote:
there seems in general to be one leader of their orchestra, and when he raises his note, hundreds take it up from all parts of the field, and when he stops, the concert is at an end.


S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
MatC
316471.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:26 am Reply with quote

The Eastern Spadefoot Toad of the USA emerges, to breed, from underground burrows during heavy rain, such as that provided by hurricanes. The first male to reach a suitable stretch of water begins a summoning call: hundreds or thousands of toads arrive

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until the night reverberates with explosive grunts and plaintive groans that sound just like the cawing of immature crows. Or, some say, like the hectoring sounds of a cross baby, or the nasal waank-waank of a rookery of young herons, or the surging errrrrah! of a person vomiting.


All spadefoots smell of garlic; the European Spadefoot is known in German as Knoblauchskrote (“garlic toad”), and if you handle one you are likely to suffer violent sneezing and watery eyes, and (should your smelly fingers touch your mouth or your food) one of the foulest tastes imaginable.

Interesting stuff. On the other hand, I can’t imagine what any of our panellists could possibly do with garlic-flavoured German knob-skrotes that make a waank-waank sound like someone vomiting.

S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
MatC
316474.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:30 am Reply with quote

Spadefeet are, as mentioned, burrowers; they can dig down several feet below the ground. When digging, one observer noted, they wriggle their hips “in the contortions of a plump hula dancer.”


S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
MatC
316489.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:57 am Reply with quote

The Spring Peeper Frog - no matter how many are gathered - doesn't sing in chorus, but in any number of trios.

One frog starts with the note of A. This is taken up by a second frog in G sharp; after a while of this duetting, a third frog joins in with a B. And so it goes on: A, G sharp, B; A G sharp, B ...

One frog may be surrounded by hundreds of others, but it’ll ignore the songs of all the others, only responding to the members of its trio.

S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
MatC
316513.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:38 am Reply with quote

In order to test the visual perceptions of the Southern Toad, experimenters placed hamburger pellets on a Lazy Susan. When the machine was stationary, the toads showed virtually no interest. But once the Susan was set to revolve, the toads began “knocking off pellets of hamburger like sharpshooters in a shooting gallery.” Because it was moving, presumably, they recognised it as prey.

Now, this is something I’d pay to see: when the toads were placed on the revolving Lazy Susan, alongside the hamburger, they also tucked in - “perhaps deducing the meat was mobile because the background was in motion.”

S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
MatC
316645.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:59 am Reply with quote

One of the favourite toads for toad-smokers - using dried venom to get hallucinogenic experiences - is the Colorado River Toad. Its venom certainly is powerful; it can paralyse or even kill a dog. Reportedly, it can squirt the venom a distance of 12 feet.

S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
MatC
316795.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:13 am Reply with quote

If alarmed while on land, the Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad strikes a pose called the “canoe position.” It pushes it head up, arches its back - and covers its eyes with its hands. (Have we ever done the Gen Ig on ostriches burying their heads in the sand? If not, it would link nicely here.)

S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
MatC
316797.  Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:14 am Reply with quote

Stand by for the weirdest of all weird toads: the Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa) from South America.



It’s described as looking like a squarish, scorched pancake. It has a flat, triangular head.

Its method of reproduction puzzled toadologists for about three centuries. First reports, in 1705, said that the baby toads grew directly out of their mother’s back. This was debunked in 1710, and in 1715 one expert declared that the babies were carried by the male, not the female. In 1765, London Zoo claimed that the female deposited her eggs in the sand, from where the male scooped them up, positioned them on her back, and then fertilised them.

Eventually, and recently (date unspecified here), a zoo in Chicago managed to film what really happens. It’s odder than any of the previous theories. The male and female pair simultaneously perform a somersault, at the peak of which the female lays between three and ten eggs which drop onto the male's belly. During the descent, the male fertilises the eggs, “presses them into the spongy, pillow-like skin of the female's back,” and the pair land.

They keep doing this until the downstairs neighbours bang on the ceiling with a broomstick, or until about 60 eggs are distributed across the female’s back (obvious forfeit for any mention of pearl necklaces) when her skin swells up and envelopes the eggs. Two to four months later, fully formed toadlets emerge.

Oh, and this is all done underwater, incidentally.

S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
MatC
317498.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:11 am Reply with quote

This frog book (wonderful book, incidentally; amazing photography) includes a piece on the pregnancy tests. Not sure if any of this is new to us, but I’ll record it for completeness.

Late 1920s, scientists discovered that mice injected with pregnant women’s urine underwent changes in their ovaries. But the mice had to be killed, and the results took five days to come through.

It was quickly discovered that rabbits could do the same job in only one or two days.

The use of frogs began in Cape Town in 1931; frog results came through in only five-eighteen hours, and more importantly the animal didn't have to be killed, so could be used again.

At first, female African Clawed Frogs were used, which led to panic-buying of them worldwide. But then it was found that male African Clawed would do just as well (they ejaculate if injected with the urine of a pregnant woman - as, indeed, do many Tory MPs). It was then realised that just about any frog of any species would do.

Today, tests have a 98% accuracy rate. But there have been oddities over the years, like the woman in Chicago who ate spicy food at a Mexican restaurant the night before her test. “Her urine sample killed all the frogs.”

S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

 
Flash
317511.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:46 am Reply with quote

That's very good in all respects. What else can I say?

 
MatC
317540.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:41 am Reply with quote

Poison frogs

There are about 135 known species of dart-poison frogs, or poison-dart frogs or poison-arrow frogs - there is much disagreement about their number and their collective designation - and most of them are so newly studied that they don’t have scientific or common names yet.

Some poison frogs, “subjected to stress in captivity may have died from their own lethal secretions.”

The outside world first learned of poison frogs in the 1820s, in an account published by a British naval captain who’d travelled in Colombia. He described how people in the Andes kept poison frogs alive in hollow canes until needed.

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They take one of the unfortunate reptiles and pass a pointed piece of wood down his throat, and out one of his legs. This torture makes the poor frog perspire very much, especially on the back, which becomes covered with white froth.


The hunters would dip or roll their arrow tips in the froth, which retained its potency for up to a year. One frog was enough for about 50 arrows.

Today, experts say, a “decline in the use of blowguns” means that frogs are no longer used for poisoning arrows. These days it’s medical researchers who are most interested in these potent substances. There’s a problem, though - frogs born in captivity don’t seem to produce the toxic secretions. Nobody’s sure why; possibly the lack of certain bacteria in the environment, or something missing from the diet, perhaps.

Scientists believe that the secretions of one frog, Phyllobates bicolor, are so toxic that 0.0000004 of an ounce is enough to kill a human.

S: “Frogs” by David Badger (Voyageur Press, 1995).

Link to the poisonous/venomous spiders/snakes


Last edited by MatC on Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:25 am; edited 1 time in total

 
Flash
317586.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:36 am Reply with quote

Crikey - link to botox / botulism.

 
Flash
317660.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:20 am Reply with quote

Incidentally, I was afraid we might not have enough material on frogs so I thought I'd copy this post of Will's over from the Future thread:
Quote:
Epibatidine is a potential new painkiller derived from the toxin of Ecuadorian Poison Arrow Frogs. It is more than 100 times stronger than morphine. The test for this is the so called hot plate test. A plate is heated electrically to a scalding temperature. Rats are then dropped onto it. Rats with no painkiller immediately leap into the air. Rats with 5 microgams of epibatidine stay put. They even stay put when give an morphia antidote, because epibatidine works differently. It targets nicotine receptors on the pain pathways of the central nervous system. Unlike nicotine (or morphine), epibatidine is not addictive.

Interestingly Poison arrow frogs will not make their toxins when in captivity. 700 frogs were destroyed during the isolation of this chemical.

 
MatC
317715.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:50 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Incidentally, I was afraid we might not have enough material on frogs


It is a worry. I'm already at least halfway through this frog book.

 

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