The Salamander that’s Always, “Out on a Limb”—Aneides lugubris

Aside from its yellow embellishments, arboreal salamanders camouflage well into their foliage-heavy habitats. Photo © TJ Gehling Acrobatics and ecototherms aren’t often synonymous with one another. And, if anything, they’re antithetical denotations—I’ve never seen a sulcata tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) somersault before. But with any seemingly unbreakable custom, there’s always a rebellious, “burn the rule book” [...]

“The Continental Leap Frog”—How Amphibians Globe Trotted… Or Hopped

It’s been hypothesized that amphibians, such as this pond frog, quite literally drifted toward foreign landmasses on buoyant tree limbs. Photo © Rachel James Living in an ever-shrinking world, exacerbated by technology and the hybridized combustion engine, we seemed to have somewhere down the fiber optic cable lost our perspective of distance. Gathering a week’s worth [...]

The Anuran Locker-Pusher—Lithobates catesbeianus

With a svl (snout-to-vent length) of nearly seven-inches, the American bull frog is the largest anuran in North America. Photo © Brian Gratwicke Stolen lunch money, a broken backpack, and countless non-fiction journals splayed across a bustling primary school hallway. And I almost forgot the ill-creative, shallow-jabbing insults screamed from the passing pseudo hot-shot. Far [...]

“Why is The Hollywood Sign Covered in Waterweeds?”—California Now Has a State Amphibian

Now absent form over seventy-percent of its originally endemic habitat, the California red-legged frog is found in only a handful of counties in the state. Photo © Greg Schechter I often say conservation isn’t a flat, cut-and-dry ideology—it’s multi dimensional. And its eco-centered activism can be arced in countless trajectories. That said, enveloping an organism [...]

“How’s anyone supposed to get ‘earthworm’ from that horrid drawing?” — Meet The Wondrous Caecilian

This Kao Tao Island caecilian (Ichthyophis kohtaoensis) poses a pseudo-annulated epidermis, allowing it to navigate its subterranean realm by hydrostatic locomotion—imagine a flexible rod sheathed in a muscular, fibrous-laden material, gaped by a fluid-filled space that separates the two dichotomous structures.  Photo © Kerry Matz Occasionally, I believe nature’s blueprint for faunal design mirrors that [...]

‘Toad Totalitarianism’—The Asian Common Toad’s Arrival in Madagascar

Madagascar provides a niche-like haven for these primarily lowland dwelling toads. Photo © Arthur Chapman Amphibians are pioneers.  Their sheer existence symbolizes the ecological bridge between the eons of primordial ooze and the terrestrial vertebrate life that emerged from the Devonian. This biotic metaphor is further romanticized by the means of amphibian propagation — a [...]

Godzilla vs. Godzilla—How the Chinese Giant Salamander is taking a toll on its Japanese Comic Counterpart

Japanese giant salamanders (Andrias japonicas) inhabit the slow-moving, rocky waterways of Japan. Photo © Paul Williams No slow flowing stream is safe. No city center intact. And skyscrapers crumble at the wake of its imminent unveiling. “It’s Godzilla” echoes through the now still urban sprawls. Oh wait, we’re talking about a salamander—albeit a giant salamander belonging to [...]

Paedophryne amauensis—Introducing the World’s Smallest Known Vertebrate

Size is all a matter of relativity. An African elephant calf is small in comparison to its adult counterparts—I pray for any woman that has to give birth to a two-hundred pound newborn. But to be the smallest vertebrate walking – or rather hopping – around our planet evokes an entirely different, profound connotation. Take [...]