Sunday 2 December 2012

Darwin's Frog

Image: Wikipedia
Rhinoderma darwinii
You know when people see a baby and say it's "so cute I could eat him/her/it aaaaaaalll up!" The important thing to remember is that they're not being literal. It's not a threat. They're simply pointing out how soft and tender, how defenceless and technically edible baby is. I guess it's some kind of sick joke. I should put it on my "How to Say Hello" list.

One thing I wouldn't say is "I could literally eat her all up", because when people say that, they're still not actually being literal. It's like when they say "I could literally eat a horse", but what they mean is "I am more hungry than people who say "I could eat a horse"".

One day people will have to say "I could literally eat a horse and I really, really mean that seriously and actually." And someone will reply "do you really mean that? Cos there's this new restaurant just opened..." and they'll say "No! Of course I don't mean it literally and seriously and actually! That's absurd! Whatever gave you that impression?"

But I digress. We were talking about eating babies. It's a tough, moral conundrum. If you could eat a baby to stop a fat man from falling off a bridge and flattening 5 people on a trolley, would you do it? What if eating a baby gave you really great organs so that a psychopathic doctor could kill you and harvest your innards to save the lives of 5 commandos on a mission to go back in time and kill Hitler? If Hitler was a baby, would you eat him? Would he have to be cute?

Darwin's Frog has no such worries. He just eats babies.

Not literally! It's actually a very peculiar form of brooding practised by these 3 cm (1.2 in) long frogs in the streams of Chile and Argentina.

It starts when a female lays her eggs. They're soft and tender, defenceless and technically edible, so the male stays behind and guards them for a couple weeks. When they hatch, he doesn't eat them exactly... it's not like he swallows them and now they're in his guts... rather he stores them in his specially voluminous vocal sac.

There, the youngsters grow and occasionally wriggle horribly. They pass through their entire tadpole stage in there and eventually develop into miniature versions of their parents. I almost wish he'd just wrap them in actual cotton wool and carry them around in a little backpack, but no...

Babies: usually dinner

Eventually, the little ones must fly the nest. Daddy Darwin's Frog has brought them up as best he can, there's just one more thing he must do before they can face the world on their own: bring them up.

It's a heart-warming scene, marred only by being quite disgusting.


TexWisGirl said...

ack!!! and ick!!!

Crunchy said...

Well... that's pretty gross. But as I always say, at least it's not a spider.

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: I bet the frog sounds just like when he's vomiting birth!

@Crunchy: Good ol' spiders. You can always trust them to make bad things a little worse!

Lear's Fool said...

Wait, did you just propose saving millions by eating baby hitler, or just eating another, extremely nutritious baby?

Frogs are awesome.

Joseph JG said...


Anonymous said...

Wow! And I thought that human women had it rough! That looks SO uncomfortable.

Joseph JG said...

Uncomfortable! Ha! Certainly that's one word for it!

Unknown said...

oh god!

Joseph JG said...

Yeah, it's pretty bad!