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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Friday, August 10, 2012

An Amazing South American Amphibian

       In the gloomy forests of South America lives a tiny frog called Darwin's Frog (Rhinoderma darwinii), who has one of the strangest reproductive cycles. The female frog lays about 30 eggs in sheltered leaf litter, then she leaves. The male frog, however, stays and guards the eggs. When the tadpoles are just about ready to hatch their egg becomes transparent and their father can see them wiggling inside. The adult male carefully wraps his tongue around each individual egg, picks it up, and slips it into his vocal sac through a slit in his mouth. The eggs then hatch inside the male's vocal sacs. The young tadpoles live inside their father's vocal sac eating the egg yoke as well as a nutrient rich secretion (perhaps similar to milk) made by the male. The tadpoles go through metamorphosis and develop into tiny frogs, a miniature replicas of their parents. When they are mature the male frog sort of burps them up and his children come hopping out of his mouth, one by one!
Like so many amazing animals, this frog species is endangered.
What an amazing world we have! What an amazing world we are losing!

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