Why Did a Million Frogs Cross the Road (and other frog news)

We’ve been preoccupied with the Gulf Oil Spill the last few weeks and are behind on the latest amphibians news. Here are a couple of stories to bring you up to date. Thanks, Gail and Rafi, for letting us know about these frog stories!

Greek Frogs on the Move

This past week a million frogs swarmed across the Egnatia highway near the town of Langadas, some 12 miles (20 kilometers) east of Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki.

According to Giorgos Thanoglou, chief of traffic police in Thessaloniki, a section of the road was closed after three cars skidded off the road when the drivers tried to dodge the frogs.

Why did millions of frogs cross the road? They were probably hungry. They have been migrating from a nearby lake to look for food.

Pinocchio the Frog

A Pinocchio-nosed frog is among the newly identified species discovered during an recent expedition to Indonesia’s remote Foja Mountains.

The long-nosed frog, a tree frog, was discovered by accident. It hopped into the researchers’ campsite where herpetologist Paul Olivertree found it sitting on a bag of rice. The frog has a long spike on its nose that points upward when the male is calling but deflates and points downward when he is less active.

In addition to the pinocchio-nosed frog and other unique species such as a gargoyle-faced gecko and the world’s smallest wallaby, the researchers also found innumerable bird species, including a giant northern cassowary (a large flightless bird with a helmet that resembles a dinosaur), birds of paradise, parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, and hornbills.

This area of the rainforest in the Foja Mountains is so isolated that even forest-dwelling people haven’t ventured there. “As a result, wildlife was abundant and unwary,” says Bruce Beehler, a senior research scientist at Conservation International, in a dispatch from the field, as reported in a Christian Science Monitor article. “The dawn chorus of birdsong and the rattle of katydids were deafening. There is nothing like it!”

Researchers with Conservation International and the National Geographic Society hope the documentation of such unique, endemic biodiversity will encourage the government of Indonesia to bolster long-term protection of the area, which is classified as a national wildlife sanctuary.

You can see the Pinocchio-frog and the other newly discovered species in this slide show and on the National Geographic site.

We find the stories of newly discovered Lost Worlds fascinating and hope they inspire people to protect these last vestiges of pristine rainforest, areas of awe-inspiring biodiversity.

Have we missed any other interesting amphibian stories? If so, please don’t hesitate to send them on to us!


Frog Summit in London: The Amphibian Survival Alliance

The BBC News reported today that conservationists have launched a new initiative at the Zoological Society of London called the Amphibian Survival Alliance to safeguard the world’s amphibians from extinction. According to the article, the Alliance will be composed of amphibian experts from around the world, including specialists from the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The group will coordinate existing projects, scientific research, and fund-raising.

Tackling the devastating chytrid fungus is the alliance’s first priority. Identified only a decade ago, the fungus now infects amphibians in the Americas, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The group will investigate anti-fungal drugs to combat the deadly disease and explore resistance to the disease in captive-bred populations and in the wild. Protecting amphibian habitats is the group’s next priority.

The alliance will also focus on these other important issues:

  • unsustainable hunting for food, medicine, and the pet trade
  • chemical pollution
  • climate change
  • introduced species
  • other infectious disease

They hope to raise the profile of amphibians in 2010, which has been designated at the International Year of Biodiversity. Hmmm, perhaps we should tell them about FROGS ARE GREEN?

The organization does not yet have a website, but I will update this post when they are on the web.

Photo by Carey James Balboa, near Playa Jaco in Costa Rica

Photo by Carey James Balboa, near Playa Jaco in Costa Rica