2008 is the year of the frog
Giant Pandas—who wouldn’t want to save them? They’re cute and cuddly, even a little bit dopey-looking. In the world of conservation they’re known as charismatic megafauna, which is a pretty fancy way of saying that they’re big, likeable characters. When seemingly huggable animals like pandas, tigers, and whales are in trouble, we notice—and we take action to protect them.
But what about animals that aren’t so huggable? Who’s going to protect the disgusting critters when they become endangered?
We are—at least that’s the goal of the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE Amphibians conservation and fundraising initiative. To inspire people to protect the world’s most endangered amphibians, EDGE scientists have compiled a list of 100 of the weirdest, grossest, most unhuggable endangered amphibians in the world. This list includes the Chinese giant salamander, an ancient species that can grow to almost six feet long; the purple frog, an animal that wasn’t discovered until 2003 because it spends most of the time buried up to 13 feet underground; and the olm, a blind salamander with transparent skin that can live without food for 10 years. For photos of the top 10 weirdest amphibians click here.
Most of us have been paying attention to the plight of the cute and cuddly creatures, but it turns out that one in three amphibians is threatened. (Only 12% of birds and 23% of mammals are threatened.) Pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change all threaten amphibians, but one of the biggest threats is chytrid fungus—a fungus that grows on the skin of adult amphibians, preventing them from absorbing water and oxygen through the skin.
Amphibians, by the way, are similar to reptiles. Reptiles (like snakes, turtles, and alligators) have scales and lay hard-shelled eggs. Amphibians (like frogs, newts, and salamanders) have smooth skin and lay soft, jelly-like eggs.