Chances are, when you think about frogs, you picture slimy green creatures that go, “Ribbit, ribbit.” Right? Well, it’s time to shatter that stereotype and open your eyes to the extraordinarily beautiful diversity of nature. At The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University’s new exhibit, “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors” (February 4 to May 14, 2017), you will experience a vibrant rainbow of sights and sounds.
“Frogs are some of the most visually stunning and vocally pleasing and adaptively remarkable animals we have on earth. And they’re so much fun to watch,” George W. Gephart, President and CEO of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, told the gathered crowd of students from Russell Byers Charter School at the Wednesday morning press preview.”
Visitors can stroll through the elaborate displays pretending they are on an expedition, trying to find all the extraordinary critters in the exhibit, which includes 15 different species from around the world. Some, like the radiant blue poison dart frog, jump right out at you, while others can take quite a bit of searching to discover.
At “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors,” you can engage in many other activities and adventures, too. You can test your field of vision against that of a frog, activate recorded frog calls, touch models, and even perform a virtual frog dissection!
Rachel Lanning from Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland in Allenwood, Pennsylvania is responsible for caring for all of the frogs in the exhibit. She took the podium next, along with her friend, a giant monkey frog. “If you look at him, he is very, very shiny,” she pointed out. “The reason why he is so shiny is because he coats himself with a protective layer of wax [that is secreted from glands in his neck]. The wax will help prevent him from drying out and keep him nice and moist because frogs need to stay moist.”
Besides the frog, Rachel held a small portion of a branch in her hand. As she was talking, the frog crawled about, climbing along the branch. “Unlike typical frogs, this giant waxy frog actually likes to climb versus hopping and jumping,” she explained. “He has opposable thumbs that he uses to grip a hold of the tree branches. While he’s climbing up into those tree branches, he’s going to be looking for some of his favorite food, which includes all kinds of bugs.”
Rachel possesses a wealth of knowledge about frogs. Her passion is infectious. When she drops some fun facts on you, you get that little tingle of “wow” that comes with learning something that is both new and fascinating. She told Entertaining Options that some frogs change color when distressed. That might not seem too important because a lot of animals can change color. However, as a caregiver, if a frog becomes a slightly darker shade, Rachel knows it needs her attention. When you think of how effectively one species can communicate with another without using anything even remotely resembling language, it’s really quite mind-blowing. [Checkout other Froggy Fun Facts listed at the end of this article.]
To conclude the three-part presentation, Ned Gilmore, Herpetology Collection Manager at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, took the podium armed with his laptop. “I like and study frogs a lot,” he told the kids from Russell Byers Charter School. “I’ve been doing it since I was your age. You can find 9 different species of frogs right in the city of Philadelphia. And in the Delaware Valley, we have 18 different species of frogs. I’m going to show you a few today, and then we are going to see if we can make the sounds that they do.”
After cheers of excitement and applause, Ned introduced the students to a half dozen frogs. He talked about where they could be found in not only this region, but in various locations across the United States, as well. Then, he taught the kids how to do some frog calls.
“The first one we’re going to learn is the spring peeper.” He played a video so the kids could hear the sound. “The peeper’s call is just kind of a whistle…”
After teaching the calls of six different frogs, Ned concluded, “I hope you learned a couple of good frog calls. You can actually make those calls and on the right night that frog will actually call back!”
George W. Gephart concluded, “The Academy is all about building knowledge, sparking curiosity, and inspiring solutions to ensure a healthy future for us all. Bringing this exhibit to you is just one of the ways that we have accomplished that mission.”
To help celebrate “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors,” The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University has renamed the opening month “Froguary” and will present special crafts, amphibian specimen displays, and interactive activities every Saturday and Sunday in February. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is located at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $13.95 and up. For more information, visit www.ansp.org.
10 FROGGY FUN FACTS
(Provided courtesy of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University)
What is the difference between a frog and a toad?
Toads are frogs. “Toad” is used to describe a frog with warty skin and short hind legs that lives on land.
What is the world’s largest frog?
The goliath frog of West Africa is the world’s largest. It can grow to 15 inches and weigh up to 7 pounds — about the size of a newborn human.
What is the world’s smallest frog?
The smallest may be the Cuban tree toad which only grows to on-half-inch long.
How many kinds of frogs are there?
There are more than 4,000 species of frogs worldwide, but scientists continue to find new ones every year.
Do frogs drink?
No. Most frogs absorb all of their water through their skin. Many have a “special drink” patch on their belly.
Are there frogs that can kill a person?
No frog is truly a threat to humans, but some can be dangerous if handled or eaten. There are at least three species of frogs in South America with skin toxins capable of killing a human — the golden poison frog carries enough poison to kill 10 people!
How many eggs does a frog lay?
Some frogs lay only a few eggs, others lay as many as 30,000 at a time.
Can you get warts from a toad?
No. Toad “warts” are thickenings in the skin or clusters of specialized glands. They are not contagious.
Could a dinosaur have stepped on a frog?
Yes. Frogs have been on earth for some 360 million years. They predated and outlived most of the dinosaurs.
Do frogs shed their skins?
Yes. Most frogs shed the outer layer of skin by twisting and stretching. They often eat the dead skin as it comes off.