Friday, March 26, 2010

Rana aurora

Rana aurora II

This reminds me of different times. I was still a herpetologist. I was working on the evolutionary relationships of a group of North American ranid frogs and needed some related specimens from the Pacific Northwest lineage. I was attending the ASIH/SSAR/HL meetings in Seattle and colleague from Washington had brought a few tadpoles of Rana aurora and Rana muscosa for the live animal exhibit that is a feature of the meeting. That was just what I needed to fill things out, so at the end of the meeting he let me take them home.

I carefully carried them back to Ann Arbor in a plastic soda bottle in my carry on luggage. You can't do that anymore. From most of the specimens I collected tissue samples, and submitted them to the museum. But, I studied frogs because I like frogs. They fascinate me, and seeing tadpoles was not enough. I wanted to see what he would look like grown up. I took a pin head sized chunk of tissue from the margin of his tail, and proceeded to raise him. It was easy to get him to metamorphosis, but that is not the hard part.

I now had a very small, very hungry frog. What do you feed a very small frog? Well, they eat very small insects. They are harder to find than you might expect, but being in a biology department has its advantages. I popped down the hall to one of fruit fly labs. There are mutants of fruit flies that do not have wings or their wings are deformed so that they can't fly. I got a couple vials of curly wing flies. The adults were a bit challenging for him to eat at the start, and getting him to grow quickly would make the job of keeping him fed easier, so I trained him to eat the fly larvae off of a needle probe.

From the picture you can see that he grew into a fine young frog with amazing colors. He lived for more than 10 years, a very respectable age for a frog of his kind.

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