Oklahoma's number one blog for natural and cultural history.
Friday, April 29, is Save the Frogs day. It’s an international effort to raise awareness about the importance of frogs (and o
ther amphibians) to the ecosystem, and the dangers currently facing frog populations worldwide.
Frogs are what biologists refer to as an “indicator species.” What this means is scientists can look at the health of frogs and frog populations in an area to get a good sense of the general health of the ecosystem there. The quality of water in an e
nvironment is central to the health of that environment. Frogs and other amphibians are, of course, dependent upon the water sources in their environments. They cannot live far from water, and because they breathe through their porous skin, any pollutants in the water will directly affect frogs. When frog populations begin to decline, it’s an indication that something is wrong at the very heart of the environment.
Losing frogs may not seem like that big a deal to some. The croak, they hop around… so what? But consider the number of insects that frogs, toads and other amphibians devour every night. And then consider the number of other animals that prey upon frogs and toads for their own survival: birds, snakes, fish, raccoons… etc. Losing frogs cuts at the heart of the ecosystem.
To say nothing of the potential scientific benefits frogs may hold. Many frogs produce chemicals on their skin or inside their bodies that may be of interest to scientists for the source of future medicines. One such frog from Australia actually produced a chemical in its stomach that stopped its stomach from making the enzymes needed to digest food, allowing the frog to swallow its fertilized eggs and provide them a safe place to develop and hatch. When the froglets emerged, the adult frog simpl
y opened her mouth and let them climb out, completely undamaged by stomach acids. Once the froglets had gone, the adult frog was able to “turn on” her stomach chemistry again. These frogs might have provided a key to eliminating suffering for ulcer patients… except they’ve been extinct since 1979.
Frogs have been around for more than 200 million years. They’ve seen the rise and
fall of the mighty dinosaurs, survived ice ages, and thrived on almost every continent. If they are in trouble now… can we be far behind?
So Save the Frogs! Visit our museum on Friday, April 29 to learn more about frogs, view some live Oklahoma frogs, and hear presentations by our curators of reptiles and amphibians. And to learn more about the Save the Frogs Day international, visit their website: www.savethefrogs.org.