F is for Frog.

Frogs are such a diverse group of amphibians (amphibians being part of the Anura order) and have some amazing traits. Frogs are incredibly important for ecosystems and play a central role in many systems. They are also an incredibly important indicator species for climate change. This means that frogs are used as a measure of the effects of climate change. If frogs start dying (which they are!), then it’s usually a bad sign! Over 33% of all frog species are thought to be threatened by growing climate change. Frogs live in multiple different habitats during their lifetime: they start their life as larvae in water and then, like most amphibians, they move onto land in their adult form. This means they live in a wide range of ecological niches and so any change in the global climate means that frogs are going to be effected. Frogs also are essential for nutrient balance in ecosystems. Nutrients generally flow from the land and into the sea and this can lead to nutrient depleted areas. Frogs are one of only a handful of groups which buck this trend and bring nutrients from the water back onto the land. This means if there is a fall in a population of frogs, then the whole area may suffer from it.

Frogs are located virtually everywhere on Earth where there is water and a certain degree of warmth. One frog that is perhaps the most widely distributed is the Bufo frog. This frog was transported all over the world for one reason: pregnancy. In the 1950’s, the Bufo test was devised for testing whether or not a woman was pregnant. The Bufo frog would be injected with ‘serum’ or urine and, if the frog went onto produce eggs in the next 24 hours, then the woman was pregnant. This meant the frog was transported all over the world as a pregnancy test. Inevitably, this led to some of the frogs being ‘released’ and allowed to colonise alien habitats.

Frogs feature heavily in folklore and fairytales. Frogs are generally seen as ‘ugly’ (thus the vast amount of princes being turned into them) and are often viewed as repulsive by humans. However, this hasn’t always been the case. The Ancient Moche people of Peru were known for their worship of animals. The frog is often depicted in some of their artwork and as statues and figures in their buildings. They were known for their vigor and it is thought that this was because of the way a frog moves. Today, frogs are also revered by tribes in Panama. The Kuna people in particular, view frogs as a cultural symbol and often display them on decorative cloths. This has been passed onto the wider nation of Panama where frogs are appear on t-shirts and lottery tickets!

Perhaps the most famous frog was Kermit. Kermit, the most famous of all muppets, has a billboard top 100 song, a biography and numerous best selling films! He has been given a honorary doctorate in ‘Amphibious Studies’, has a town named after him (which features a green water-tower!) and has been the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade! Kermit the frog has probably achieved more than I will ever achieve in my life time!

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