Monthly pic May 2012

A toad's world. Canon 50D, Tokina 10-17mm, 1/80, f/5.0, iso 100, handheld.
21/05/2013
I am quite fond of amphibians, unlike my lovely wife who starts yelling 'yuck' and demands me to wash my hands before coming even remotely near her. On hindsight that is properly good sanitation advice to begin with... but still: I observe a great and hidden divide in our society that even transcends silly discussions about gender, ethnicity, religion and sexuality!!! I know... that's quite the bombshell and to be able to bring you such a scoop on this very website fills me with enormous pride.

I'm talking about the popularity of amphibians, or lack thereof... Most people don't seem to quite like those frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians. There are even people suffering from 'batrachophobia', a fear of frogs. And I'm talking about real amphibians here, not about much beloved characters as Kermit the Frog ;) Based on a complete lack of scientific evidence I assume only 5 out of a 100 people like amphibians. Now that is very low, especially compared to completely unrelated findings as:
  • 97 out of 100 climate scientists agree humans are responsible for climate change;
  • 55 out of a 100 Americans believe in guardian angels.
As a biologist and budding naturalist admiring the whole of biodiversity, my take is: if it exists... it's to be admired. Now... that applies to most cool and wacky species out there, with the exception of ticks and mosquito's. Which - despite loads of restraining orders - keep invading my personal space.

Why this lack of enthusiasm for our jumping, crawling or swimming friends? Sure, they either have a 'warty' or shiny permeable skin that might put people off, but they also show very interesting behaviour, lifestyle, very colourful eyes / skin or musical abilities. Not convinced?

Let me give you the lovely natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita), shown here while using a fish-eye lens (thanks Krijn!). Their call can be heared several kilometers away, making this Europe's noisiest amphibian. They can also maintain themselves in one of the most dynamic and extreme landscapes of Europe: coastal sand dunes. Surprisingly they are very fast, being able to cross vast spaces while running instead of hopping or walking. Hence, I propose the natterjack toad as a new symbol to end all and any controversy: in case of a dispute: all sides need to declare in favour of like and dislike of this wonderful toad, creating surprisingly new alliances and common ground ;)

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