BOSTON–A chorus of more than 80 frogs and tadpoles from around the globe is hopping, gliding, and singing along the way to the Museum of Science, Boston. Beginning Friday, February 13, the Museum will present Frogs: A Chorus of Colors. Frogs is the most complete exhibition of live frogs ever created, covering more aspects of the order Anura than ever before and featuring 18 species of frogs from around the world.
For those who have never thought of frogs as beautiful or melodious, this exhibit may change their minds. Frogs are among the most colorful, musical, and adaptively remarkable animals on Earth. In addition to their aesthetic value, frogs are important to the study of human medicine. The protective toxins that cover the skin of these «hopping pharmacies» may be used to treat heart ailments, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and some cancers.
Sadly, though frogs have filled the night with song for some 360 million years, frogs and other amphibians may become the next dinosaurs. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 32% of the world’s amphibian species are threatened by extinction. With 1,856 threatened species, there are more threatened amphibian species than threatened mammals or birds. As humans alter natural environments, and threats like habitat loss, pollution, and disease loom–frogs around the world are disappearing. Although none of the species in Frogs are threatened or endangered, some are protected in their countries of origin, such as the Vietnamese mossy frog (protected in Vietnam) and the dart poison frog (protected in Suriname). Most of the featured species are in decline in their native habitats. By showcasing the remarkable traits of frogs, the Museum hopes to educate visitors about the importance of these incredible creatures.
«Much more than say ‘ribbit,’ frogs chirp, whistle, growl, and snore. Their skin can startle predators with dazzling jewel colors or serve as camouflage. And their remarkable adaptations have taught us information that is valuable to human health,» says Lew Stevens, senior curator of living collections at the Museum of Science. «This exhibit will immerse museum-goers in the surprising sights and sounds of frogs, and we hope that visitors will come away with a better understanding of these animals and the need to protect them.»
Visitors will witness, up-close, a diverse range of frogs and their behaviors. Species on display include:
- American Bullfrog – Named for their loud, deep mating calls, bullfrogs eat insects, fish, birds, snakes, baby turtles and other frogs. These frogs are native to the eastern U.S., but they have been released west of the Rocky Mountains where they have devastated local populations of frogs and other small animals.
- African Bullfrog – These giant frogs can grow up to eight inches in diameter and live for 40 years. They eat almost anything – insects, small mammals, and other frogs. Adult African Bullfrogs bear a striking resemblance to the Star Wars character Jabba the Hutt.
- Dart Poison Frog – Dart Poison Frogs from the rainforests of the Americas come in a dizzying array of colors and patterns. Some are used by native tribes to poison the tips of blowdarts for hunting. Complex compounds in the skin secretions of dart frogs are now being studied by scientists for potential medicinal use. These frogs have provided a possible substitute for morphine that is non-addictive and 100 times more potent.
- Chinese Gliding Frog – These beautiful tree frogs have enlarged webbing between their toes. When leaping between branches or escaping toward the ground, the toes spread and the webbi