11 posts categorized "Animals: Frogs"

May 17, 2013

Endangered Species Have Their Day

Endangered mantella sign_blog

May 17 is Endangered Species Day. But we live among threatened and endangered plant and animal species every day. You might see them during a bird walk on the lakefront or on a hike through the Cook County forest preserves. You will see them swimming in Shedd’s exhibits and even growing in our gardens.

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April 27, 2013

Save the Frogs Day

We’re working at it. Shedd is home to a variety of threatened and endangered mantella frogs, all native to small—and ever-shrinking—ranges in Madagascar.

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September 05, 2012

Jazzin' Instrumentals: Axolotls

Axolotl for blog

“Hey, man, you really wail on that axe.”

There will be no wailing on these axes, but, as you might have noticed, we do love a good stretch for our Jazzin’ Instrumentals focus animals.

Jazz can be hot or cool, smooth or groove, Chicago style or Kansas City, mainstream or avant-garde. The axolotls (ACK-suh-LAH-tuhls) are way avant-garde.

You’ll find four of these Mexican salamanders with the equally far-out Mexican blind cave tetras in the Rivers and Lakes gallery. While the cave tetras never develop eyes, the axolotls never develop into adults.

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August 31, 2011

Name Your Poison: The Antidotes

Tarantula This summer we’ve looked at many of the venomous and poisonous animals at Shedd Aquarium. Now we’re going to delve into the precautions and protocols staff members use to safely care for sea jellies, tarantulas, poison dart frogs, stingrays, lionfish and a host of other toxic marine and freshwater critters.

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August 24, 2011

Name Your Poison: Hot Spots around Shedd

Ocellated-Dragonet-web Among herpetologists, those scientists who study reptiles, “hot” means venomous. By that definition, Shedd has a lot of hot spots where you can find venomous, as well as poisonous, animals. (A refresher from earlier in this series: Venom is injected, poison is ingested.)

The hotbeds of toxicity at Shedd are Wild Reef and Amazon Rising. Both represent two of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, where a lot of species wage constant turf (or surf) wars for food, habitat and mates. Diversity and competition go hand in hand. But venomous animals often have the upper hand.

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August 03, 2011

Name Your Poison: Dart Frogs

Epipedobates When Shakespeare’s witches stirred their stew of “Eye of newt, and toe of frog,” in the fourth act of Macbeth, they were using folk knowledge nearly as old and widespread as humankind: Amphibians are strong medicine.

European traditions attributed everything from warts to witchcraft to toads and their kin. By contrast, the Choco Indians of Colombia recognized the toxic properties of the brightly colored little frogs hopping around the rainforest floor and used them to make poison blowdarts for hunting. Other South American Indians knew that some species of frogs had healing properties in their skin secretions and rubbed the animals across wounds.

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October 27, 2010

Haunting Creatures Inhabit Shedd: Warts and More

Based on name, behavior and overall appearance, with bonus points for bizarre appendages, the warty frogfish in Wild Reef is the perfect Halloween fish. It looks less like a frog and more like your jack-o’-lantern… Wartskin_FrogfishBLOG by Thanksgiving. That is, until you notice it crawling around its rocky reef habitat on four webbed feet. Okay, those are really fins, but the stalked pectoral, or front, fins and especially the big pelvic fins, which look like 11-toed webbed feet with little claws at the end, strongly resemble a frog’s locomotive anatomy. Other froggy aspects are its prominent wartlike scales, called dermal spicules, and its massive mouth. Frogfish are also known as anglerfish. They have what can only be described as a built-in fishing pole on the head. A fleshy lure that can be wiggled at will hangs from the tip, just above that big froglike mouth. Hunkered down on the reef and looking like a brightly colored coral or sponge (or squishy pumpkin), the frogfish projects the pole and waits for a hungry fish to take the bait. Then whoosh, the frogfish’s mouth juts forward and sucks in the prey in six-thousandths of a second. That’s just supernatural. A frogfish can put away prey twice its size, engulfing it whole and folding the fish within its stretchy stomach (and correspondingly expandable body). Strange to us, but perfect for some sea witch’s familiar.

Tomorrow we slog ashore in the Malay archipelago, where not all predators are animals.

Karen Furnweger, web editor

Want more creepy critters - follow the tour through spooky Shedd!

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October 20, 2010

Haunting Creatures Inhabit Shedd: Name Your Poison

The Amazon is rich in critters endowed with a venomous sting or bite. But one little frog can be deadly toxic to the touch. The golden dart frog’s scientific name says a lot: Phyllobates terribilis. This 3-inch terror secretes one of the most potent poisons in the animal kingdom through tiny glands that dot its chrome yellow skin. Called batrachotoxin, it’s Golden_dart_frog_BLOG lightning fast and fatal. If it gets into the bloodstream, on a blowgun dart shot into a bird or monkey, or through a cut in a researcher’s hand, it instantly shuts down all nerve and muscle function, causing cardiac arrest. There is no antidote. Research indicates that Phyllobates frogs don’t manufacture batrachotoxin but rather ingest it from toxic beetles they eat on the rain forest floor. They store it in their toxin glands and reflexively release it when threatened or agitated. A mere 100 micrograms—the equivalent weight of two grains of table salt—will fell a 150-pound person. Fed a nutritious but nontoxic diet of live foods raised at Shedd, the golden dart frogs in Amazon Rising are safe to handle.

Our tour continues on Friday!

Karen Furnweger, web editor

Want more of Shedd's haunting creatures, check out our previous Halloween features...

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October 14, 2010

Haunting Creatures Inhabit Shedd

When the silvery white disk of the moonlight gourami shimmers overhead and the wolf-eel in its watery grotto raises its head as if to howl, it’s time to take a Halloween stroll through Shedd Aquarium in search of ghoulies, ghosties and darned strange aquatic life. Don’t let the bat sea stars get in your hair.

Pumpkinseed-SunfishBLOG Get in the spirit 1:
At first glance, the pumpkinseeds in the Local Waters gallery don’t seem very scary—in fact, they are among the prettiest of the Great Lakes fishes. You can find them in the Chicago River, too, which says the water quality, at least in some sections, is improving from its longtime state as a witches’ brew of industrial pollution. The orange or yellow spots rising from the fish’s orange underside kind of resemble the interior architecture of the Halloween squash. These little predators are especially fond of mosquito larvae. For this tour, it’s also worth noting that big pumpkinseeds will eat little pumpkinseeds. With the specter of cannibalism clinging to us, let’s head over to Amazon Rising.

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May 09, 2010

A mother's work is never done

Tan-Polka-Dot-Strawberry-Dart-Frog_480P4289 Here’s a fun word: oophagous (OH-ah-feh-gehs). It means living or feeding on eggs. For Mother’s Day, another Shedd mom is the strawberry poison dart frog, Oophaga pumilio. Despite its evocative common name, this species comes in a rainbow of solid colors and interesting patterns, such as Shedd’s tan, yellow and orange polka dot varieties, known to biologists as color morphs. (And, of course, these bright hues are a visual warning to would-be predators that the bite-sized frogs are toxic.) But it’s little O. pumilio’s parenting behavior that is really attention-getting.

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