I'd like for you to meet one of my favorite people in the whole world. He's a private guy and though he's okay with my writing this post, he'd rather I kept his identity a secret for now. He calls himself The Toadman. But I should warn you, what you are about to read isn't what you'd expect. He doesn't lick toads for fun, eat amphibians or live under a bridge. He simply loves toads more than anything in the world and what he does in his free time proves it.
If you ever meet The Toadman, he'll seem just like anyone else in the Motor City. He'll probably talk about Michigan State University, the Detroit Tigers and how great it is to live in his hometown of Clawson. But what you won't get right out of the gate is what I call his "green side". That's the side of him that's comfortable discussing his life-long passion.
Since we were kids, The Toadman has been obsessed with frogs and toads. The day I got my drivers license he talked me into traveling 20 miles north to a swampy area because "that's where they have the best ones". I know it sounds strange, but just as a bird watcher is able to detect the presence of certain birds by how they chirp, The Toadman is able to do the same with toads. It's uncanny really.
Did I mention that for the past 2 decades he's lived with toads and sometimes sets up professional photo shoots with them? Read the rest
Once just a "gross but versatile" cartoon frog, Pepe slid the rage-greased chute of chan culture into the toilet of offensive memes and popped up on the other side in the Anti-Defamation League's archives. There, he takes his place beside the swastika and the Confederate flag.
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Weird Universe shares the tale of Larry Canaday, the 1970s football coach at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Florida, who would bite the heads off live frogs to psych up his team before games.
"Our kids love it," Canaday told the Associated Press in 1977. "They say 'Look how wild the coach is, let's get wild, too!'"
Canaday said he started the practice when trying to fire up one player. "I looked down and saw this little frog and just reached down and bit it. The boy's eyes got big as saucers and he became a real go-geter."
After several years of the ritual, school officials told him that the "frog-biting must cease."
"Last year we were winning," he said in the 1977 article. "But now we're losing, and certain intellects will use this as an excuse to pick on football."
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See sample pages from this book at Wink.
If you are a serious (and I mean serious) fan of the frog, you are in for a real treat. The Book of Frogs is a meticulous field guide to 600 diverse species of frogs, including wonderfully striking, life-size photographs for each and every entry. From poisonous frogs to tiny toenail-sized frogs, whistlers, “explosive breeders,” endangered frogs, and recently discovered frogs, author and one of the world’s leading frog experts Tim Halliday covers an exhaustive gamut of frog species from around the planet. Although a wonderful source for anyone trying to decipher and learn about frogs they find in nature, it’s a hefty, weighty tome of a book and would probably do better on a coffee table than inside a backpack.
The Book of Frogs: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World
by Tim Halliday
University of Chicago Press
2016, 656 pages, 7.1 x 10.5 x 1.8 inches
Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest
By now, you've seen the amphibian invariably referred to in the press as "an unfortunate frog" being lifted towards the heavens after it wandered too close to a NASA launch pad in Virginia. But did you know that this frog was not the first to try (and fail) to reach space?
At The Guardian, Jason Goldman writes about the history of frogs in space (or, at least, frogs that were briefly pointed at space), which dates all the way back to September 19, 1959, when the US Air Force attempted to send up two frogs on board a Jupiter AM-23 rocket. Why frogs? Goldman explains: Read the rest
That's one giant leap for a frog beside NASA's LADEE spacecraft lifting off last Friday at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. (via @NASA on Instagram) Read the rest
This here is a Namaqua Rain Frog (Breviceps namaquensis)
in Port Nolloth on the northwestern coast of South Africa.
Every now and then, I get a glorious reminder of just how much the Internet has enriched my life. Fifteen years ago, if I had arrived at a conference center—as I did yesterday for my stint in the Marine Biological Laboratory Science Journalism Fellowship program—and seen a sign in the lobby announcing the presence of a "Xenopus Workshop" I could have, eventually, found out that a Xenopus was a frog frequently used as a model animal in medical research.
Thanks to the Internet, though, I was able to learn the following things in a remarkably short period of time:
Xenopus Fact: Xenopuses (Xenopodes? Xenopi? Freshman Latin was a really long time ago, you guys) were used in one of the earliest reliable pregnancy tests. That's because exposure even a tiny amount of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin will cause a female Xenopus to lay eggs. Inject a female Xenopus with urine from a human female and, if the Xenopus lays eggs, it means the female human is knocked up.
Xenopus Fact: You know how some lizards can grow a new tail if you cut the old one off? Xenopuses can do that with the lenses of their eyes.
Xenopus Fact: Because Xenopuses are so widely used in laboratories, there's a whole industry of suppliers of Xenopuses and Xenopus accessories. Case in point, the "Xenopus enrichment tube" in the photo above—apparently, they like to have something to hide out in. Also, you can buy synthetic slime to replace your Xenopus' natural protective coating that is often lost through frequent handling. Read the rest