Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Calif. tailed frog finds a good sign for forest

Sheepish scientists refer to it as a tail, but the appendage dragging behind the male frog recently discovered in Mendocino County is no tail.

The little amphibian, known as a coastal tailed frog, is unique among frog and toad species for its comparatively magnificent, let's call it, copulatory organ.

The unusual species was found recently for the first time in the 23,780-acre Garcia River Forest, farther south than it has ever been known to exist. Biologists say the 1- to 2-inch-long amphibian has a lot going for it, most notably its genitalia, which can get up to a quarter of the length of its body.

But it is less about size than it is motion, as they say. This stream-loving critter apparently wags his tail with admirable dexterity.

"It actually swivels around to different positions," said Larry Serpa, an aquatic ecologist for the Nature Conservancy, who discovered the creature. "Also, they have sex in very cold water. That's not easy either."

The discovery is important not so much because of the frog's unique attributes, according to scientists, but as an indication that the forest restoration work going on in the Garcia River watershed is starting to pay off. ...

via Calif. tailed frog finds a good sign for forest.

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