Meet our new resident frog-blogger

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My name’s Darren Naish: my technical training is in vertebrate palaeontology (I actually specialise on the study of Lower Cretaceous predatory dinosaurs), but I’m interested in all tetrapods (tetrapods are those vertebrates that have four limbs, or descend from ancestors that had them) and have written about members of most groups at my blog Tetrapod Zoology. And among my favourite tetrapods are the amphibians. Amphibians are often regarded as uncharismatic and mundane, but nothing could be further from the truth: they are radically strange, often bizarre, and always fascinating, and at a time when they’re declining and in desperate need of global conservation efforts, we need to do as much as we can to promote their diversity, their amazing biology, why they’re in trouble, and what we can do about it. EDGE species are often the strangest and most remarkable members of their groups and also, sadly, the ones most in need of conservation. 

The EDGE amphibian project launches today!

A major global conservation effort, aiming to bring to better attention the chronic plight of the world’s amphibian species, was launched at the start of this year. You might have heard of it: the Year of the Frog movement. And, today, a second project aimed at conserving the world’s endangered amphibians launches: the EDGE amphibian project, a website designed by the Zoological Society of London to draw attention to amphibian species that are not just globally endangered, but are also evolutionarily distinct

As you might have guessed, ‘EDGE’ stands for Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered. EDGE species have few (or no) close living relatives and are highly distinct in terms of their biology, habits or behaviour. And while some EDGE species – like Giant pandas and Black rhinos – are well studied and relatively familiar, a great many are highly obscure and poorly known. So the plan over the last couple of months – as if you couldn’t guess – has been to build a framework of reference articles on Tet Zoo that essentially introduce the main amphibian lineages and their key traits. With the exception of one article left to do on natatanuran neobatrachians, I managed to get through all anurans, and of course just recently we did caecilians and caudates.

With this framework (virtually) in place, the stage is set for more detailed examinations of specific species and genera, focusing of course on the EDGE amphibian species. Given that I have a particular liking of obscure species, I had to take this on, and indeed you might argue that I had a responsibility to do so, given that virtually nothing non-technical has been written about many of the species concerned. We’re talking about such awesome creatures as the giant salamanders, Australian frogs that have lost their eardrums and communicate by waving their limbs around, miniature Mexican plethodontids, spiny salamanders, olms, and the singularly named Togo slippery frog Conraua derooi and Baw Baw frog Philoria frosti… and many others. As of today, lots of information on these species – much of it widely available for the first time – is available at the EDGE site, and I’m going to be blogging about some of these species over the following weeks and months. You have been warned!

Comments

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  1. Jeff said,

    on January 22nd, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Good for the frogs! An astute selection for The EDGE frog blog. Darren, I look forward to your posts.

  2. Natasha said,

    on January 22nd, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Fantastic news you are blogging for EDGE, i read your blogs all the time so this will be a welcome addition to already brilliant reading. I look forward to more about these weird animals.

  3. Larry A Jones said,

    on January 23rd, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Dear Darren Naish;
    Hi, my name is Larry. I’m a 65yr Sen Cit in Florida, USA. In the early 70′s I lived in Northern Ohio, the Northernmost part of the ‘States. As a Nature lover, I always used to take long walks in the Forests in Northern USA from the time I was a youngster, (especially after a long cold Winter, during Springtime. I realized that the climate was starting to change drastically every year. In the Early 70′s I came to realize that after the normal SpringThaws would occur, the Tadpoles would hatch and be lively, and after a couple weeks, the temps would drop and the streams and ponds would freeze over again. After awhile it would warm up again and things would thaw out once again, but this time there would be less tadpoles, and some years there would be 2nd and 3rd refreezes, always with less and less tadpoles. At first I would write and call the local Biologists/Scientists around Cleveland, but no one seemed to be much concerned. I tried to contact different Scientific Agencies around the States, but I guess they must have felt, “what could we do”, or maybe, who cares? Then about 10yrs later in the 80′s, I read a few articles that Scientists were “puzzled” and astonished” about the “Noticeable Disappearance of Frogs in the Northern USA. I felt and still feel so helpless, but now, as I live in Florida, because of such good weather, we have plenty of Frogs and Toads, and until I read your article I had pretty much forgotten all that. If I had the means and connections, since moving down here, I would love to start up a Frog Farm, and raise the Critters, and then take them to the parts of the World where they belong. But, it seems I’ve never read anything regarding the Pros or Cons of depleted Fogs, so I’m not sure if this would be a good thing to attempt, although this would be the perfect place. Well, I enjoyed your article,

    Thank You for letting me steam out,
    Larry A Jones
    dewisantsavant55@aol.com


  4. on December 8th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    [...] Darren Naish is a fantastic advocate of everything to do with tetrapod zoology through his excellent blog.  From fossils to modern day creatures, and the mysteries of cryptozoology (I recommend you look at the sasquatch blog), Darren has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of all things with four legs, or that have had four legs at some point in their evolutionary history.  He has recently turned his attentions to giant salamanders and I hope you will enjoy his fascinating account of the cryptobranchids and the pictures that  appear on his blog.  The Chinese giant salamander is ranked 2 on the EDGE Amphibians list and is our highest priority amphibian for conservation action so this species is particularly close to our hearts… [...]

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