Lake Titicaca Frog

WE’VE MOVED! COME AND SEE US HERE YOU BIG SMASHER!

High in the South American Andes sits an epic body of water, many years ago the local tribes saw that it was shaped like a puma pouncing on a rabbit and so named it Lake Titicaca. Years later, deep in its azure waters Victorian naturalists found a rather curious looking frog, they marvelled at this new species poked at its flaps of skin and scratched their learned chins, there was only one name for this froggy fellow Telmatobius coleus – the aquatic scrotum.

... the aquatic scrotum...

Lake Titicaca is an unforgiving place, at nearly 4,000 metres above sea level the Sun is punishing, oxygen is thin and freezing temperatures abound. It’s for this reason that the Lake Titicaca Frog has evolved into something that looks like it should be in a man’s pants, which is surprising as a man’s pants are rarely thought of as an extreme environment. It should also be noted that it being discovered in 1876 it was way before any sort of TV chef, hence the frog is not called Gordonus Ramsiius. Not that we at the proceedings think Gordon Ramsey looks like a nutsack … no …no… no… no… no. It seems the key to the frogs success is that it stays underwater at all times, and those folds and flaps of skin help with the uptake of oxygen from the lake.

... one will have you know that it is your scrotum that looks like a frog...

For years this fellow has been revered by the locals, who thought the frog could summon rain. They would take a frog, place him in a jar, and leave him at the top of a hill. Of course the frog would scream bally murder, it hadn’t evolved into a scrotum-like frog to sit in jars at the top of hills, he much preferred life at the bottom of a lake where people couldn’t constantly remark on how much he looked like a pair of knackers. Unfortunately the Frogish for ‘get me out of this jar you fools’ sounds a lot like the Quechuan for ‘oh do rain, it would be awfully nice’. Thankfully sometimes the rains would come, and as the jar filled with water the frog could slosh out and go back to the bottom of the lake where he felt much less self conscious.

... unhand me you buffoon!

In the 1970’s when Jacques Cousteau visited the lake he reported that the bottom was quite literally swimming with ‘thousands of millions’ of giant frogs, many up to 50cm long. Sadly the days of these behemoth have gone, there are few frogs left and those that are still there rarely get that big . One of the main reasons for their demise is the fad for ‘frog juice’ in nearby Lima. These cosmopolitan forward-thinking erudites think that they can produce an aphrodisiac by skinning a frog alive, mixing it with a bit of honey and some roots, and whizzing it up in a blender. Of course nothing gets me in the mood like watching a frog being skinned alive and blended. In fact I can think of no bigger turn off… apart from Gordon Ramsay… who looks like a nutsack.

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Published in: on October 19, 2010 at 11:00 am  Comments (1)  

Caecilian

The caecilian is the yummiest mummy you will ever meet, she’s rather attractive, has a great pair of lungs on her, and she likes a good root…

… sorry just pouring out a Scotch… where were we… ah yes she likes a good root around underground… spending much of her time deep in soil.

Though caecilians look like a liquorice whip had a rather racy night with an earthworm they are in fact amphibians, yes quite… like frogs and salamanders. You’d be forgiven in thinking that you haven’t seen this filly around either as they are rather elusive, as we mentioned they spend the best part of their life underground. Not surprisingly they are rather short-sighted and can only just make out the difference between light and dark.

The caecilians grow up to one and a half metres long and all but one species have a pair of lungs… one lung is bigger than the other so it fits better in that lithe yummy mummy body… indeed the snakes have similar odd shaped lungs. The single caecilian species that doesn’t have lungs is rather a small chap, he doesn’t need lungs as he can get enough oxygen deep enough into his weeny system through his amphibious skin.

Oooh right… yes marvellous… this is the perfect time to discuss an honorary member of The Proceedings; J.B.S Haldane. Professor Haldane is perhaps most famous for his principle, put simply; body size defines what body bits an animal needs. Take for example air-breathing systems; tiny insects can take in oxygen in through their skin from their surrounds, but large mammals have had to develop incredibly complex lung and circulatory systems to get oxygen to their nether regions. So as Haldane’s principle predicts; a big caecilian has had to evolve lungs and a little one has in fact done away with them.

J.B.S. Haldane: Legend

While we’re on the subject the second thing that J.B.S. Haldane was known for is being a bon vivant… he really was a smasher and is dearly missed by us all. Once asked what he felt God must be like he quipped he must have ”An inordinate fondness for beetles” referring to the fact that about 25% of all known living things on the planet are beetles. Later, in a series of rather dangerous experiments on himself, he perforated an eardrum and afterwards stated quite matter of factly “the drum generally heals up; and if a hole remains in it, although one is somewhat deaf, one can blow tobacco smoke out of the ear in question… which is a social accomplishment.” Marvellous fellow!

Right where were we… aaah yes the rather wonderful caecilia… aaah on to nuptials… we usually get around to this sooner or later. The caecilians are the only amphibian that have a penis-like organ… apart from a rather happy looking frog that lives in fast flowing streams. After all the rumpy pumpy the caecilians give birth to live young, and this is where the yummy mummy part comes in… as the wee ones like nothing less than eating their mother. Yes these little wrigglers begin in the womb, chomping away at the womb lining, some species even continue to eat their mother after they are born… tearing chunks from her skin and greedily gobbling them down… as we were saying the caecilian… a really really yummy mummy.

Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 11:40 am  Comments (4)  

Giant Salamander

Hell’s teeth… what the bejesus… giant salamander you say? Well I never!

...i say could you move your hand old bean...

...i say could you move your hand old bean...

The giant salamanders of Japan and China are just two of some five hundred species of salamander. They are marvellous fellows and are found all over the world, from the tropical rainforests to the Siberian steppe. Indeed the Siberian salamander can survive temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees celsius. They happily snooze away in the ice as their body can produce antifreeze. It is not known how long they can do this for, though it is known they can do it for a long time, it has even been postulated that some of them may have been napping since the Ice Age. Indeed they have been found in ice fourteen metres deep from the Pleistocene era 12,000 years ago… but no one can guarantee that they didn’t just fall down a crack in the ice.

Of course it is not ice that salamanders are usually associated with, it is fire. Leonardo da Vinci, among other bearded types, thought the salamander was born from fire. Naturally there is a reasonable explanation, as these chaps like to hang out in wet logs, piles of firewood included and the poor buggers are simply skedaddling out of the flames.

It is skedaddling that really sets the amphibians apart of course, as it was these chaps ancestors that were the first vertebrates to have a bit of a breather. Moving out of the water needed some big changes, most obviously four legs to skedaddle upon. Secondly they needed to breathe in dry stuff and so developed lungs; little more than a pair of weeny balloons they may be, but they are very good at both breathing in dry air and for disappointing children at fairs with.

Representatives of these ancient colonizers include a giant salamander first brought to the attention of western ‘science’ by a certain Johann Jakob Scheuchzer. The Swiss physician was rather taken by a fossil of them and after careful consideration named it Homo Diluvii Testis (latin: ‘Evidence of a Diluvian Human) as he believed it to be a man who had died in the biblical flood. Presumably later that evening the eminent physician gave particular attention to the anatomical design of his elbow and promptly renamed it his arse.

Published in: on July 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm  Comments (7)  

Lake Titicaca Frog

WE’VE MOVED HERE! COME SAY HELLO!

High in the South American Andes sits an epic body of water, many years ago the local tribes saw that it was shaped like a puma pouncing on a rabbit and so named it Lake Titicaca. Years later, deep in its azure waters Victorian naturalists found a rather curious looking frog, they marvelled at this new species poked at its flaps of skin and scratched their learned chins, there was only one name for this froggy fellow Telmatobius coleus – the aquatic scrotum.

TiticacaFrog

Lake Titicaca is an unforgiving place, at nearly 4,000 metres above sea level the Sun is punishing, oxygen is thin and freezing temperatures abound. It’s for this reason that the Lake Titicaca Frog has evolved into something that looks like it should be in a man’s pants, which is surprising as a man’s pants are rarely thought of as an extreme environment. It should also be noted that it being discovered in 1876 it was way before any sort of TV chef, hence the frog is not called Gordonus ramsiius. Not that we at the proceedings think Gordon Ramsey looks like a nutsack … no …no… no… no… no. It seems the key to the frogs success is that it stays underwater at all times, and those folds and flaps of skin help with the uptake of oxygen from the lake.

For years this fellow has been revered by the locals, who thought the frog could summon rain. They would take a frog, place him in a jar, and leave him at the top of a hill. Of course the frog would scream bally murder, it hadn’t evolved into a scrotum-like frog to sit in jars at the top of hills, he much preferred life at the bottom of a lake where people couldn’t constantly remark on how much he looked like a pair of knackers. Unfortunately the Frogish for ‘get me out of this jar you fools’ sounds a lot like the Quechuan for ‘oh do rain, it would be awfully nice’. Thankfully sometimes the rains would come, and as the jar filled with water the frog could slosh out and go back to the bottom of the lake where he felt much less self conscious.

In the 1970’s when Jacques Cousteau visited the lake he reported that the bottom was quite literally swimming with ‘thousands of millions’ of giant frogs, many up to 50cm long. Sadly the days of these behemoth have gone, there are few frogs left and those that are still there rarely get that big . One of the main reasons for their demise is the fad for ‘frog juice’ in nearby Lima. These cosmopolitan forward-thinking erudites think that they can produce an aphrodisiac by skinning a frog alive, mixing it with a bit of honey and some roots, and whizzing it up in a blender. Of course nothing gets me in the mood like watching a frog being skinned alive and blended. In fact I can think of no bigger turn off… apart from Gordon Ramsay… who looks like a nutsack.

Published in: on June 23, 2009 at 9:26 am  Comments (4)  

The Olm

WE’VE MOVED HERE! COME SAY HELLO!

This odd fellow lives in the Balkans where it dwells in the cave systems that criss-cross this south east corner of Europe. Many moons ago, when a particularly heavy rain broke they would spew forth from the caves. The locals thought that they were the young of enormous serpents living deep in the systems… baby dragons… but then again the locals were from the Balkans.

The Olm scuttles about these salubrious venues, its body adapted remarkably to the lightless surrounds. It has a pinkish appearance as it has very little need for colour in the black belly of the earth. The Olm has no eyes, as again why waste energy on growing eyes when there is no light to see by. Instead it is covered in sensors that pick up vibrations of anything that moves in the water. Incredibly the Olm is also covered in taste buds, like a great big autonomous tongue flopping and lolling around the cave trying to taste out prey. As if being able to taste and feel your prey isn’t enough, the Olm has developed electrical receptors, detecting the minute electrical pulses that living animals emit. So if anything does happen to plop into the dank darkness of an Olm’s cave, you can be assured that this chap will find it.

That is probably the whole point, as things rarely do plop into caves… in fact they do their damnedest not to plop into caves and get chomped on by baby dragons or indeed autonomous tongues. It has been noted by learned types that some Olms have even gone six years without a meal. So the Olm has become a master at energy conservation. As we have seen they don’t bother developing anything they don’t need to survive in the dark. They don’t even have the energy for a bit of bonking, no need for all that strenuous to-ing and fro-ing, egg producing and what not, no that would be silly. The Olm wait about 14 years before they even think of doing anything carnal, and they may even live for over a hundred years to make sure they do have a wee one.

So there we have it, a fantastic addition to the Proceedings of the Ever so Strange, it may not be a baby dragon, but it is just as bally well extraordinary.