At this time of the year, while frogs and toads are deep in hibernation (in our part of the world anyway), our Google alerts for frog news are full of stories about Horned Frogs, not the frog species, but rather the sports teams. Not being much of a sports fan, I always ignore these stories. But this year, we finally decided it was time to learn a little about these Horned Frogs.
It turns out that the Horned Frogs are the 18 varsity athletic teams that represent Texas Christian University. The Horned Frog mascot first appeared in 1897, and by 1915, it appeared on the TCU seal. During the post-WWII years, the Horned Frog mascot was in costume, on stationery, class rings, and the band’s bass drum. In 1979 the mascot was renamed from Addy the All-American Frog to Super Frog.
The women’s teams are known as the Lady Frogs. TCU once had a bumper sticker that said “My Princess Turned into a Frog.”
But This Horned Frog is Actually a Lizard!
It turns out, however, that the ”horned frog” nickname and mascot refers to the Texas horned lizard, also known as the “horned frog.” The popular name comes from the lizard’s rounded body and blunt snout, which gives it a toad- or frog-like appearance. The Texas horned lizard, along with at least three other species of horned lizard, has the ability to squirt an stream of blood from the corners of the eyes and sometimes from its mouth for a distance of up to 5 ft (1.5 m).
Some Native American peoples regard horned lizards as sacred—the animal is a common motif in Native American art of the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico. The Texas horned lizard is also the state reptile of Texas.
So before the football season is officially over this Sunday, we thought we’d introduce you to one of the TCU teams, the Horned Frogs football team. It competes as a member of the Mountain West Conference, but is due to move to the Big East Conference for the 2012 season. The Frogs have won two national championships and 15 conference championships. Legendary players include Bob Lilly, Sammy Baugh, Davey O’Brien, and LaDainian Tomlinson.
The Horned Frogs won the 2011 Rose Bowl, beating Wisconsin, 21-19.
And if you’d like to learn about the real Horned Frogs (the amphibians, not the lizards), check out our 10 Weirdest and Most Unusual Frogs post, which introduces the Ornate Horned Frog. We were so entranced with this frog that Susan created a poster about it (proceeds to benefit amphibian conservation).