Saturday, March 10, 2012


As a kid, I always had a crisis when facing one of the most important childhood questions: “What is you favorite animal?” How is anyone supposed to narrow that sort of thing down to one? After a while, I began to break animals down into groups so I could have lots and lots of favorites. Maybe that is part of what attracts me to taxonomy so much. Here is the list of my favorite animals in the order Anura:

5. Texas Toad Bufo speciosus 

Yes, it is so ordinary. If you live in Texas as a kid it is pretty much guaranteed that you will have handled one of these. I think this wonderful little creature is a big part of the reason that frogs and toads are among my favorite sorts of animals. That, and the book “Frog and Toad are Friends.” I still have vivid memories of the time when I was three in Fort Worth, Texas and I caught a shoebox full of these. My mom gave me a pair of her hose to cover the box so they could still breathe.

4. Bull Frog Rana catesbeiana 

Another “common” choice, but these are amazing creatures! In college, Cheryl and I came across one of these that was as big as a cat. If you want to keep one as a pet, you have to feed them stuff like ground beef. In the wild, they are known to eat baby alligators! My granddad told me he saw one jump over a suburban once.

3. Couch's Spadefoot Toad Scaphiopus couchii 

These are beautiful little gems of the toad kingdom. In West Texas you see them simply appear out of nowhere by the thousands after heavy rains. They can be kept as pets as well, only take care that they do not escape. Otherwise you may discover them quite some time later, mummified in the body of your guitar.

2. Blue Poison Dart Frog Dendrobates azureus 

These may possibly be the most beautiful animals on the planet. They are deadly to the touch, so bonus points on the impressive scale. I hear tell that their poisonous secretions are a result of their diet in the wild; so captive specimens are harmless. I wonder how you go about testing that claim?

1. Darwin’s Frog Rhinoderma darwinii 

I used to spend all the time I got in the far-southern-virgin forests of Chile looking at the ground hoping to catch a glimpse of these “masters of disguise.” Apparently they really are masters, or else really endangered.

(All pictures are from Wikipedia)


  1. Former science teacher here - and I love taxonomy too. Something about making order from chaos, about organizing thoughts in a way that makes sense. This was a very cool post. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Deanna. Although I prefer to see it as discovering the order in the design, no? :)


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