And Then There Were None

It’s almost a cruelty to parade these dazzling living specimens of amphibians before us–a group that holds maybe a third place in color and form behind beetles and birds–because unless things change significantly in the climate change trends, habitat loss and other factors known and unknown that work today against this animal CLASS, they won’t be around to admire except in stunning pictures like these.

So go ahead. Browse through the 20 contestants and choose your favorite. Mine’s #16 here. Imagine walking past a roadside pond and seeing this plate-sized lily pad with EYES!

Yes, herpetologists are a sad lot these days. It’s not just the class Amphibia–the snakes and lizards have their own declines to deal with as well.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. #9, Chinese Gliding Frogs, are my favorite because I am such a fan of turquoise. There were two other turquoise species, but not so intense a color. Also, the lichen in the photo was the same color. Pretty cool. Although as a Life Science teacher I have seen many photos of amphibians, most in this collection were new to me. Thanks! Although it is very sad that soon photos of extinct species may be all we have of amphibians.