Naturespeak A naturalist's view of the world

March 26, 2007

A Chorus Line

Filed under: Uncategorized — wykes @ 9:40 pm

Monday, March 26, 2007

  The ancients once believed that animals sprung to life spontaneously out of the earth elements like seeds. Rotten meat germinated flies and geese were born of barnacles, it was said.  After all, rotten meat magically produced flies where there were none before. Specific kinds of rotten meat produced specific things. Dead lion carcasses, for instance, produced honeybees.  This belief was dubbed “Spontaneous Generation.”

  Scientific observation and experimentation eventually caused that idea to spontaneously combust.  Should you now stumble into a carcass just “lion” around, realize that it didn’t actually create the flies around it, but instead, attracted them to lay eggs in it. The honeybee thing, well that was just plain weird.

  I guess you’d think it equally as weird, if I mention that a rotten lion would remind me of one of our earliest spring frogs, but it does. 

  You see, this week the Chorus Frogs started singing.  They always seem to spontaneously generate out of the spring pools. Look in the same locations after mid summer, and you’ll find no sign of them either in or around the water – they disappear completely.  Even a dead lion won’t cause them to return. Only the lengthening days of spring call them forth.

  They come to the shallow watery places on a mission – they don’t have time to fool around (actually their intention is to “fool around” but not the “goofing off” type of “fool around.”)  They come to find love and lay eggs.  Although they’ll use permanent bodies of water, they prefer temporary pools for their shenanigans. Such temporary bodies of water are called Ephemeral pools.  Most of these pools dry up by mid-summer but are great as tadpole rearing pens because they don’t have frog-eating fish in them.  The pollies metamorphise before the nursery dries up.

  These tiny frogs are only about an inch in length, but their loud repetitious calls liven up the spring air.  Their sound is somewhat insect-like, which is why their Greek name means “false cricket.” Take your fingernail and run it down the teeth of a comb and you have a pretty good imitation of the call. “Cre-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-k, Cre-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-k.” Get together a group of friends and have them do the same things with their combs and you have a chorus (and perhaps a spontaneous generation of either laughter or flies).

  Chorus Frogs gather together to sing in a like manner – and thus the name.  The combined effect of dozens, or hundreds of crooning males, amplifies the romantic effect upon the females of the species. They arrive, pick out suitable mates, lay gelatinous masses of eggs, and leave.  Usually all this carousing is done by the end of April and the ephemeral adults sneak back into obscurity.

  Their tiny size, dark eye stripe and three brown back stripes are the key physical features of this diminutive songster. They are extremely wary, however, and clam up the instant they detect a footfall or a shadow.  I have caught a few in my time, but only after losing a significant amount of dignity and becoming nearly as wet as my quarry. 

  So, now you have a choice.  Next time you are near a pool full of singing Chorus Frogs you can just enjoy the concert or do something spontaneous and try to catch a few.



  1. Love The Spring Chorus! What a great writer you are!! My new favorite!

    Comment by JoJo — March 29, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

  2. Eastern faiths still believe in spontaneous combustion. And those who study yoga know that if the kundaluni (spelling is not my forte) moves too quickly up the spine, combustion (of the person), may occur. The force of energy is very powerful–even the energy contained within the human body.

    Comment by Lisa — March 30, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  3. Yes, no .. or maybe? I just can’t decide my opinion.

    Comment by Maatch — June 15, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

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