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The Animal Answer Guide

Mike Dorcas and Whit Gibbons

Publication Year: 2011

Frogs are amazingly diverse—ranging from the massive goliath frog, which weighs several pounds, to the recently discovered gold frog, which measures a mere three-eighths of an inch when fully grown—and have inhabited the earth for more than 200 million years. Today, however, these amphibians face more challenges than any other vertebrate group. In this fun and informative book, herpetologists Mike Dorcas and Whit Gibbons answer common and not-so-common questions people may have about these fascinating animals. Dorcas and Gibbons discuss how frogs evolved, which species currently exist in the world, and why some have recently gone extinct. They reveal what frogs eat and what eats them, their role in cultures across the globe, why many populations are declining and what we can do to reverse this dangerous trend, why there are deformed frogs, and much more. They answer expected questions such as “What is the difference between a frog and a toad?” and “Why do some people lick toads?” and unexpected ones such as “Why do some frogs lay their eggs in the leaves of trees?” and “Do frogs feel pain?” The authors’ easy-to-understand yet thorough explanations provide insight into the amazing biology of this amphibian group. In addressing conservation questions, Dorcas and Gibbons highlight the frightening implications of the current worldwide amphibian crisis, which many scientists predict will bring extinction rates experienced by frog species to levels not seen in any vertebrate animal group in millions of years. Packed with facts and featuring two color galleries and 70 black-and-white photographs, Frogs: The Animal Answer Guide is sure to address the questions on the minds of curious naturalists.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Series: The Animal Answer Guides: Q&A for the Curious Naturalist

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. xi

We are grateful to the numerous staff and students at Davidson College and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory for their encouragement and assistance in writing this book. In particular, we thank Margaret Wead for assisting in a variety of ways with the details of manuscript preparation. We thank Kimberly Andrews, Rick Bauer, Kurt Buhlmann, Adrien...

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pp. xiii

Both of us grew up as herpetologists. We may not have realized it until later, but when we were young, we somehow acquired (or were born with?) a fascination for wildlife and, in particular, amphibians and reptiles. Such a fascination, one that requires exploration and further understanding, is a prerequisite for being a herpetologist. Thus, neither of us can pinpoint...

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1. Introducing Frogs

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pp. 1-12

Frogs are members of the class Amphibia, often called amphibians, which includes all frogs and toads in addition to two other less-familiar groups of animals. Frogs and toads are vertebrates—animals with backbones— which are generally recognizable and not easily confused with other animals. People rarely, if ever, say, "Is that a frog?" Instead, they are...

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2. Form and Function

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pp. 13-27

A single species, the goliath frog (Conraua goliath), holds the undisputed record as the largest frog in the world. A native of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, the goliath frog inhabits West African rivers, especially near rapids and waterfalls. According to Victor Hutchison, who conducted research on the species, the largest goliath frog ever found was almost 16 inches long...

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3. Frog Colors

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pp. 28-34

Few other animal groups display the variety of colors found among frogs and toads. Frogs come in greens, reds, browns, yellow, and sometimes blue. The diversity of colors found among frog species, and even within a single frog species, is remarkable. In nearly all cases, the colors and patterns frogs exhibit have some adaptive value for the animal. In most cases, frogs' colors...

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4. Frog Behavior

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pp. 35-46

Frogs make a lot of noise. The noise a large chorus of frogs produce can be deafening. Why do they make so much noise? Frogs are trying to secure a mate and calling, sometimes very loudly, is the main way they do this. In nearly all species, primarily the male calls to attract a mate. Such a call, which scientists refer to as an advertisement call, cannot only attract females...

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5. Frog Ecology

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pp. 47-58

With few exceptions, frogs and toads are found worldwide, and at least one species lives in nearly every region and frogs live on all but one continent. Most species live in the Tropics, and none occur in Antarctica, Greenland, or Iceland. Because they cannot tolerate salt water, no frogs are found in marine habitats except for a species that lives close to marine...

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6. Reproduction and Development

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pp. 59-75

All frogs have two sexes, females that produce eggs and males that produce sperm. Thus, all species reproduce sexually, with the male's sperm fertilizing the female's eggs. In most species, the female deposits her eggs outside of her body before fertilization. In the simplest situation, eggs are released from the female's body into the water, and the male releases sperm...

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7. Food and Feeding

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pp. 76-82

With few exceptions, all adult frogs and toads eat other animals—that is, they are carnivores. Frogs are well known for their insect-eating capabilities, and, in general, insects play a major role in their diet. However, frogs will eat any animal small enough for them to swallow, and because most frogs are small animals, insects and other small invertebrates, which...

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8. Frogs and Humans

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pp. 83-90

Some species of frogs and toads make good pets, and many are attractive and interesting. Keeping a pet frog or toad can be an excellent opportunity for a child to learn to appreciate animals and to learn about the responsibilities required when caring for a pet. However, if you are looking for a pet that responds to your commands or likes to sit in your lap, we...

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9. Frog Problems (from a human viewpoint)

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pp. 91-98

People should care about frogs for many reasons, several of which are explained in other parts of this book. Among the basic reasons are that frogs are an important part of the world's ecosystems, serving as both predators and prey for countless wildlife species. Another reason that people should care about frogs is that they have had major roles in both ecological...

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10. Human Problems (from a frog’s viewpoint)

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pp. 99-115

Frogs may be the most imperiled of all vertebrate animals. Many of the world's frogs are endangered, but "endangered" has different meanings based on the context in which it is used. Formal and often legal classifications and designations of particular frogs and toads as endangered are through several recognized and official entities. Foremost are the...

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11. Frogs in Stories and Literature

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pp. 116-127

Placing frogs or toads in the context of religion is difficult because of evolving cultures and because the frog or toad has not assumed the lasting significance as the sole icon of a major civilization. Nonetheless, scholars have cited numerous religious roles for frogs. A few thousand years ago, Egyptians credited at least four gods with having frog-like heads and...

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12. “Frogology”

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pp. 128-139

Many laypeople are interested in and enjoy studying and learning about the biology of frogs and other animals to increase their appreciation and understanding of the natural world. Scientists usually study frogs either to learn about frogs or to learn about a general scientific phenomenon, using frogs as model organisms. Most scientists who study frog biology refer to...


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pp. 141-145


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pp. 147-151


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pp. 153-160

E-ISBN-13: 9781421401188
E-ISBN-10: 1421401185
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801899362
Print-ISBN-10: 0801899362

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 27 color photos, 70 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: The Animal Answer Guides: Q&A for the Curious Naturalist