Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Beaked Toad

A team led by Conservation International descended into the forests of Colombia to look for species of frogs not seen in decades and feared extinct. Some of the lost critters remain lost, but some new ones turned up, among them the beaked toad. Roughly the color of the dead leaves among which it lives, it is one of the only toad species that skips the tadpole stage and emerges from the egg as a fully formed toadlet. Its tiny, 2 cm (0.8 in.) size helps it hide from predators, but its most distinctive feature is its hooked snout. The expedition's lead scientist — in a singularly unscientific aside — compared the toad to "the nefarious villain Mr. Burns, from the Simpsons television series."