Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Have I mentioned that this is the year of the frog? This year a consortium of zoo, conservation and zoological groups are joining forces to spread the word about the catastrophic decline of the world's frogs. One of the prime ventures under this heading is the Amphibian Ark, a project dedicated to captive propagation of the most critical frog species. Among their innovative fund-raising schemes is the Toad-Naming Auction, bidding for which will cease tomorrow.
Let me explain. The little fellow above is a newly-discovered member of the genus Osornophryne, a group of bufonid toads known only from the northern Andes. Little is known about them, but they seem to be dependent on pristine montane forests. Unlike other bufonids, they undergo direct development, meaning that the tadpoles metamorphose within the eggs, emerging as tiny froglets. This particular species was recently found in the mountains of northern Ecuador, and will be described in a peer-reviewed journal, but, in break with orthodoxy, the second part of the Latin binomial will go to the highest bidder. In other words, if you're looking for a means to immortality, get over to the auction page and put in your bid before 12:27pm, Eastern Daylight Time on May 29th. Should your bid win, this fascinating little toad species will bear your name, and the proceeds will go to Amphibian Ark. It's as simple as that.
Update: I'm not sure what the winning bid was, but last time I looked, it was up to $5,500US. A new auction has begun for the name of a Venezuelan species of Mannophryne, a relative of the poison frogs (Dendrobatidae).
upper: AMERICAN TOAD (1999) acrylic on illustration board 7" x 7"
lower: New Osornophryne species photo swiped from charitybuzz.com. Photographer unknown.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi; the auction is actually at https://auction01.charitybuzz.com/secure/viewItemDetail.do?auction_item_id=77301 and it ends on June 30th. Cool though.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Carel Brest van Kempen said...

Yes, the old page appears to have come down with the end of the auction, and you've identified a brand new one. Thanks for alerting me to that; I've updated my post accordingly.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dumb question here...are the toad disease problems or whirling disease affecting numbers of hellbenders (have heard of them being in Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park)?

9:49 PM  
Blogger Carel Brest van Kempen said...

Not a dumb question at all, Mary. Chytridiomycosis, the mysterious fungal infection, has indeed been a problem for hellbenders, where it typically seems to occur in conjunction with the bacterium Citrobacter freundii. In affected individuals the limbs and digits rot away. I don't know of similar infections being found in other animals. As far as I know, whirling disease only affects fish. Rocky Mt. Nat'l Park is a long ways west of Hellbenders' known range. I'd expect that any hellbender that might have been found there had been introduced intentionally.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Prairie Gothic said...

Amazing work, great blog!

9:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home