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Jekyll & Hyde Tadpoles

Spadefoot toads (Scaphiopus multiplicatus) were found to have two phenotypes as tadpoles, one a large, quick-growing carnivorous tadpole, and the other a smaller and slow-growing omnivore. These phenotypic traits were environmentally induced, being related to food availability and duration of the pond. What is especially interesting is that it may be possible, from what was told to me by an individual who helped with the experiment, for a tadpole of one phenotype to be environmentally manipulated to transform into the other phenotype within a fairly short period of time.

  • Pfennig, D.W., A. Mabry, and D. Orange. 1991. Environmental causes of correlations between age and size at metamorphosis in Scaphiopus multiplicatus. Ecology 72(6): 2240-2248.

Fire-proof Salamanders

During a prescribed burn on a wooded hillside in California, two California newts (Taricha torosa) were seen walking through burning leaves. Slimy skin secretions foamed and covered the salamanders, becoming a crust protecting the amphibians from the heat and flames. The author (Stromberg) examined the animals and saw no blisters or skin discoloration.

  • Stromberg, M.R. 1997. Natural history notes: Taricha torosa (California Newt) - Response to Fire. Herpetological Review 28(2): 84.