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Posts Tagged "amphibians"

The Artful Amoeba

Frog-Killing Fungus Meets Its Match in Hidden World of Tiny Predators

micropredators_glowing_Schmeller_et_al_2014_200

As I reported in a feature story in Scientific American last December , some fungi have been behaving badly of late, attacking bats, plants, amphibians, reptiles, and people with gusto, driving many species to extinction and others to the brink. It’s all quite depressing. But today in Scientific American online I report some good news: [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

A New Weapon in the War on Frog Chytrids: Water Fleas

water_flea_Daphnia_magna-female_adult_wiki_cc_200

It’s no secret that frogs and toads in the Americas, Australia, and Europe have suffered extinctions and massive declines at the hands of a chytrid fungus on a global genocidal rampage. What is much more of a mystery is exactly what a chytrid fungus is. Or, for that matter, what to do about it. I [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Alpine Toads and the Chytrids that Love Them

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When you read a story, you may occasionally wonder what the reporter went through to get it. About a month ago I arose at 5 a.m. to  accompany two wildlife biologists and three fisheries volunteers into the high country of Colorado in order to report a story that came out in High Country News this [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Panamanian Golden Frog

panamanian golden frog

These tiny, brightly colored amphibians pack a potent neurotoxin on their skin. That toxin protected them from predators, but it won’t save them from extinction. They haven’t been seen in the wild in seven years. Species name: Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). This is actually a misnomer. These “frogs” are actually toads! Where found: The [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Did the Axolotl Just Go Extinct?

axolotl

In 2009 scientists reported that the population of one of the world’s most bizarre creatures has dropped by 90 percent over the previous four years. Flash forward four more years and it now appears that Mexico’s “water monster” is approaching extinction in the wild. Species name: Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), also known as the “water monster” [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Fire Salamanders in the Netherlands Wiped Out by Newly Discovered Fungus

fire salamander

Five years ago the Netherlands was home to a small but healthy population of fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra terrestris). That is no longer the case. The first dead salamanders, their bodies lacking any visible signs of injuries, turned up in 2008. More mysteriously dead salamanders appeared in the following years, while field surveys found fewer [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Hellbender Head Start: Raising Giant Salamanders in the Bronx

Eastern Hellbender sq

Four years ago 41 hellbender salamander larvae from western New York State arrived at their temporary home in New York City. Originally collected as eggs near the Allegheny River, the hellbenders—also known as snot otters or devil dogs—were hatched at the Buffalo Zoo and then transferred to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, where they [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Amphibians in U.S. Declining at “Alarming and Rapid Rate”

yellow-legged frog

A new study finds that frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians in the U.S. are dying off so quickly that they could disappear from half of their habitats in the next 20 years. For some of the more endangered species, they could lose half of their habitats in as little as six years. The nine-year [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus Hits Rarely Seen, Wormlike Amphibians

caecilian

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never seen a caecilian, let alone don’t know how to pronounce the word. These rare, legless amphibians—which look like a cross between a worm and a snake—spend most of their time underground, far from the prying eyes of scientists and other humans. Although some of the 190 or so known [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Geese May Be Helping to Spread Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus

canada goose belgium

The frog-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the disease chytridiomycosis, has been blamed for about 100 amphibian extinctions around the globe since it was first observed in 1998, but clear information on exactly how it spreads has remained a mystery. Now a team of scientists working in Belgium have come up with one potential [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Looms for Rare Frog Species, Now Down to 1 Individual

Rabbs Tree Frog

And then there was one. The last known Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) now lives by himself at Zoo Atlanta in Georgia after the zoo euthanized the only other member of its species. The euthanized frog, another male, had been experiencing a “marked decline in health and behavior” according to a Zoo Atlanta news [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Should California Ban American Bullfrogs?

American bullfrog

Santa Cruz County in California could soon become the first county in the U.S. to ban the import, sale and possession of American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). Last week, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark W. Stone sent a letter to the board urging it to enact a ban in 2012. Stone’s request followed [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Endangered Ozark Hellbender Salamanders Breed in Captivity for the First Time

“In my 24 years in the zoo business, this is one of the most exciting periods I’ve been through so far,” says Jeff Ettling, curator of herpetology and aquatics at the Saint Louis Zoo. He’s talking about the birth of 185 baby Ozark hellbender salamanders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) at the zoo’s Ron Goellner Center for [...]

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Image of the Week

Tragically Beautiful

DFA186: Hadēs by Brandon Ballengée

Source: ScienceArt On View in March/April 2014 on Symbiartic Populations of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are rapidly declining worldwide, and those that remain are increasingly falling victim to environmental pollutants that cause deformities such as extra limbs and ambiguous sexual organs. Brandon Ballengée’s work aims to draw attention to their plight through visually arresting [...]

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Running Ponies

If only you could see yourself, Atretochoana eiselti

“What? What are you guys all laughing at? No, of course I don’t have any idea what I look like. You’re laughing because I’m so ridiculously good-looking, right? Guys? Hey stop stealing my fries, don’t think I can’t sense you!” **** Yes, this is probably the most unfortunate-looking animal in the world, and yes that’s [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Strange Bedfellow Frogs (Part 2): Pig-Nosed and Shovel-Nosed Frogs (aka Snout-Burrowers)

Marbled snout-burrower (Hemisus marmoratus); image by Ryanvanhuyssteen, CC BY-SA 4.0

A few weeks back – during the Tet Zoo frog event – I wrote about the peculiar African brevicipitid frogs, variously termed short-headed frogs or rain frogs. The plan when compiling that article was to write about a second group of frogs, closely related to brevicipitids. But time was short, the article became too long, [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

A brief introduction to reed, sedge and lily frogs

Hyperolius viridiflavus, photographed in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Nick Hobgood. Image CC BY-SA 3.0.

Here’s a very brief article to a group of frogs. It’s a slightly modified version of an article that initially appeared on Tet Zoo ver 2 during November 2007. Reed, sedge and lily frogs, or hyperoliids, are a moderately large group (containing approximately 215 species) of mostly arboreal ranoids that climb in vegetation at or [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

It’s the Helmeted water toad… this time, with information!

C. gayi, drawn from a photo. Illustration by Darren Naish.

Back in October 2007 (at Tet Zoo ver 2) I wrote a very brief article on a poorly known, gigantic, deeply weird South American frog: the Helmeted water toad, Chilean giant frog or Gay’s frog* Calyptocephalella gayi (long known – incorrectly it turns out – as Caudiverbera caudiverbera). Back in 2007, so little information was [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

‘Strange bedfellow frogs’ (part I): rotund, adorable brevicipitids

Breviceps frogs are not exactly the ideal shape for normal amplexus. This is B. montanus. Photo by Abu Shawka, in the public domain.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, I have the urge to write about frogs. Today we look briefly at the first of two behaviourally peculiar, anatomically surprising groups, both of which are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, both of which belong to a major neobatrachian frog clade called Allodapanura, and both of which have been united in a clade [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

There is so much more to flying frogs than flying frogs

Beautiful painting of Wallace's flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus) by the unique Carel Brest van Kampen.

Episode 2 of David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies appeared on TV the other day, and I watched it (in fact, I livetweeted throughout, mostly because I wanted to talk about their portrayal of pterosaurs and Mesozoic theropods). And hence I have rhacophorid frogs on my mind – the mostly tropical Afro-Asian frog group that [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Frogs you may not have heard of: Brazil’s Cycloramphus ‘button frogs’

Things are not looking good for many of the Cycloramphus species. This is is C. boraceiensis. Photo (c) Ariovaldo Giaretta, CC BY-SA 2.5.

The world is full of frogs, and while I’ve made reasonable efforts over Tet Zoo’s nearly nine years of operation to cover some of this diversity (see the links at the bottom of this article), there are many groups that I’ve never even mentioned. Today I want to talk about the Cycloramphus ‘button frogs’, the [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Gladiatorial glassfrogs, redux

The same individual as that shown above, photographed 31 hours after a fight, and with injuries visible on his dorsal surface. Images from Hutter et al. (2013).

Readers with supernaturally good memories might remember the two articles, published here back in January and February 2013, on glassfrogs, a highly unusual and poorly known group of Neotropical frogs, so named due to their incredible translucent or transparent ventral skin. Glassfrogs (properly: Centrolenidae) are weird and fascinating for all sorts of reasons (if you [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Tadpole nests, past and present

Modern impressions made by tadpoles, photographed in a drainage ditch in Tennessee in 1958, from Maher (1962). A pipe serves as a scale.

Thanks to that recent Tet Zoo article about American spadefoot toads and their tadpoles, I’ve had visions in my mind of drying ephemeral pools in hot, arid environments, crammed with crowded, gasping tadpoles. All are racing to complete metamorphosis before what remains of the water is finally gone… It’s a sad scene, replayed annually in [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

North American spadefoot toads and their incredible fast-metamorphosing, polymorphic tadpoles

There are essentially NO creative common images depicting spadefoot toad cannibalism (what the hell?), so I had to create my own. This images (based on various photos) depicts a cannibalistic encounter between a carnivore-morph Spea tadpole and an omnivore-morph one. Image by Darren Naish.

Time for more spadefoot toads (that is, members of the anuran clade Pelobatoidea or Anomocoela). This time, we’re going to look at the two North American spadefoot toad genera (Spea and Scaphiopus). Like megophryids (the horned spadefoot toads discussed in the previous article) these have, conventionally, been classified as part of the Old World spadefoot [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Megophrys: so much more than Megophrys nasuta

Profile of M. nasuta by O. Leillinger, photo CC BY-SA 3.0.

In the previous article, we looked at parsley frogs or pelodytids – a small and conservative lineage within the anuran clade Pelobatoidea (also known as Anomocoela, and commonly as the spadefoot toads). Parsley frogs are very nice, but they’re dull compared to certain other pelobatoid lineages, especially the (sometimes) rather spectacular megophryids (or megophryines) of [...]

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