Frogs: A Chorus of Colors: This Is "A Fascinating and Fun Exhibition That Explores the Incredible Diversity of This Important Group of Amphibians Which Has Been Roaming the Earth for More Than 200,000,000 Years, at Least as Long as the Dinosaurs."

USA TODAY, November 2004 | Go to article overview

Frogs: A Chorus of Colors: This Is "A Fascinating and Fun Exhibition That Explores the Incredible Diversity of This Important Group of Amphibians Which Has Been Roaming the Earth for More Than 200,000,000 Years, at Least as Long as the Dinosaurs."


THE EXHIBITION, "Frogs: A Chorus of Colors," featuring more than 200 live frogs from over 17 countries, introduces visitors to the colorful and richly diverse world of these complex amphibians through an exploration of their evolution and biology, their importance to ecosystems, and the threats they face in the world's changing environments.

Representing 24 species from countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Russia, Suriname, the U.S., Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam, the frogs range from the tiny golden mantella (less than an inch long) to the enormous African bullfrog (as big as eight inches in length) and are shown in re-created habitats, complete with rock ledges, live plants, and waterfalls.

"'Frogs: A Chorus of Colors' is a fascinating and fun exhibition that explores the incredible diversity of this important group of amphibians which has been roaming the Earth for more than 200,000,000 years, at least as long as the dinosaurs." declares Ellen V. Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History, New York. "Frogs are a bellwether for the health of our environment--their ability to thrive is closely linked to the health of their habitats, underscoring once again the fundamental point that the health of individual species and the ecosystems they inhabit of directly connected. We hope that visitors to 'Frogs" will be astounded and delighted by the diversity, color, and size--large and small--of these fascinating creatures, while also gaining a greater understanding of the important role of these animals in the world's interconnected ecosystems."

"'Frogs: A Chorus of Colors' offers visitors a rich sample of the worldwide diversity of frog species, and, [thanks] to ongoing discoveries, we now know frogs to be more species-rich than mammals," adds Christopher J. Raxworthy, associate curator, Department of Herpetology, Division of "Vertebrate Zoology, and curator of "Frogs."

"Visitors to this exhibition will be able to learn about the striking diversity among a wide array of the world's 4,900 described species. 'Frogs" focuses on frog morphology and behavior, such as frogs' innovative and bizarre reproductive strategies--including the tact that some ... do not begin life as tadpoles--and features the most up-to-date information.... All the frogs displayed in this exhibition have been bred in captivity to protect their populations in the wild."

The broad array includes American bullfrogs and tadpoles, African bullfrogs, Vietnamese mossy frogs, smooth-sided toads, Chinese gliding frogs, African clawed frogs, Budgett's frogs, ornate-homed frogs, golden mantella frogs, fire-bellied toads, Mexican dumpy frogs, waxy monkey frogs, smokey jungle frogs, and dyeing poison frogs.

The exhibition's centerpiece is a vivarium that is home to a variety of brightly colored dart poison frogs. They are so named because the Embera Choco, indigenous people of northwestern Colombia, poison their blow darts by rubbing them along the backs of the frogs. Dart poison species acquire their poisons from their diet---chiefly ants and other insects; some species also can chemically alter the substances they ingest, turning mild toxins into more potent ones found nowhere else in nature. The frogs in this exhibition, which were bred in captivity, have been fed a diet that lacks poisonous compounds, thus rendering them harmless.

"Frogs" also offers a number of interactive components, including ones that invites visitors to examine the skeleton of the world's largest frog--the seven-pound African goliath--and learn how its skeleton allows it to outjump Olympic athletes; explore the stages of metamorphosis from egg to tadpole to full-grown frog; watch video clips of frogs jumping, swimming, walking, climbing, and gliding: activate recorded frog calls and overlap them to create a chorus; test their field of vision against that of a frog: gauge their "frog IQ" on a range of subjects from basic to obscure; and perform a virtual dissection. …

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