Can’t think of what to get your friends for their wedding? You could try naming a genus of beetles after them, like Shûhei Nomura and Richard Leschen did for our own Heidi and her partner, Joe (who has also guest posted here):

Etymology. This new genus is dedicated to the authors’ friends, Heidi and Joseph Parker, on theoccasion of their marriage and honoring Joe’s workon pselaphine inquilines. In early 2015, Joe and Heidi became parents of Jonah Wallace Parker (7 lbs. 10 oz.). – Source: Morgan Jackson

Source: Morgan Jackson

Meet the Foam Nest

Physalaemus petersi communal foam nest in Ecuador  (Photo Credit: Mónica Guerra)
Physalaemus petersi communal foam nest in Ecuador
(Photo Credit: Mónica Guerra)

Reproductive modes in frogs vary greatly, as do the ways in which they deposit their eggs. The túngara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus (=Engystomops), which is the main focus in my lab constructs a “foam” nest–an adaptive character which I’ve become interested in exploring. Foamy substances are produced by some insects, tunicates, fish and, perhaps most famously, frogs.

Foam nests may be constructed by frogs in trees, underground burrows, on top of water, or nearby water sources. This phenomenon has evolved independently several times in both old and new world frogs, living in tropical and subtropical areas. Continue reading “Meet the Foam Nest”

Somewhere, in the distance, a salamander barked…

Photo Credit: Gary Nafis
Photo Credit: Gary Nafis

Editor’s Note: Regarding the title – Could. Not. Resist. Sorry.

The family Dicamptodon is a sweet little packet of goodness. Commonly, they are known as “giant salamanders” even though they are not, in fact, the biggest salamanders around. I was not consulted in this naming process, so don’t blame me. While containing just a single genus and four species, they are few, but mighty in size, bark and bite. Members of this mainly terrestrial (although they can be paedomorphic) family may grow to be just over a foot long. They are known to be voracious eaters and a bit aggressive. “Aggressive salamander” sounds as oxymoron-ish as jumbo shrimp, christian scientist, or Chief Justice William Rehnquist, but check out this video below and judge for yourself.

These guys even eat small mammals (hey, don’t we all) and make a barking noise that sounds kind of like my stomach growling.

Finally, if you spend too much time on the internet looking up “salamander vocalization” (and oh yes, I do) you will eventually stumble upon some disturbing mormon business about a “talking white salamander”. This has me wondering if maybe Joseph Smith encountered a species of Dicamptodon , but it was “barking” and definitely not talking. Also, the correct translation was most likely “you are crazy and I’m not a spirit”. While salamanders are awesome, they are not supernatural.

To learn more, follow-up with this video from some California Conservation Corps members:

“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.

Meet the Amphiuma

photo: Tim Johnson caudata.orgThere are loads of salamanders that don’t necessarily fit into our idea of a salamander. The amphiuma is one example. There are three species of one-, two- and three-toed salamanders and all are fully aquatic. Depending on the species they can be between 33 and 110 cm, but their legs stay T-rex style. They inhabit the southeastern United States, and although relatively common they are sadly understudied.

Here is a video to learn more:

Even though the legs are vestigial, the amphiuma is still able to traverse across land.

“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.

Meet the ‘Semaphore’ Frog

Green-spotted rock frog (Staurois tuberilinguis)
Green-spotted rock frog (Staurois tuberilinguis)

I am lucky enough to spend my days in a frog communication lab, but everyone on the street knows how frogs communicate-by calling (if you didn’t know that, I’m really sorry about the sad life you’ve been living. Please go outside today and sit in the grass. Maybe quit your job. Also, let your parents know you’d be better off if you were raised by wolves because at least then you’d know the glory of nature).

In general, we think of frogs calling from the edge of the pond where the only competition is from other male frogs. It gets more interesting when you consider some frogs call near rushing water and the modifications they must make to their call. Calling is energetically costly and competing with rushing water can surely be exhausting. Some frogs have developed another mode in which to signal by using semaphore. Indeed, the frogs of the genus Staurois from Borneo still call, but the streams are so loud that they modify their call and employ this semaphore in the form of foot flagging. Continue reading “Meet the ‘Semaphore’ Frog”

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