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The Mystery of Darwin's Frog
     

The Mystery of Darwin's Frog

by Marty Crump, Steve Jenkins (Illustrator), Edel Rodriguez (Illustrator)
 

A frog full of tadpoles? Impossible! Here, for the first time, is the strange but true story of Darwin’s frog. After Charles Darwin discovered the frog in 1834, other researchers found that one of his specimens was packed full of tadpoles. Was the frog a cannibal, or perhaps a rare species that gave birth to live young instead of laying eggs? No. He was a

Overview


A frog full of tadpoles? Impossible! Here, for the first time, is the strange but true story of Darwin’s frog. After Charles Darwin discovered the frog in 1834, other researchers found that one of his specimens was packed full of tadpoles. Was the frog a cannibal, or perhaps a rare species that gave birth to live young instead of laying eggs? No. He was a male, holding the tadpoles safe in his vocal sac while they morphed into froglets. And the surprises didn’t stop there. Author and frog scientist Marty Crump mines her firsthand experiences studying Darwin’s frog to tell the fascinating story for young readers. Award-winning illustrators Steve Jenkins and Edel Rodriguez lend their art to a mix of beautiful photographs. Young readers will be enthralled by this story of real science, full of strange surprises.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An amphibian with some highly unusual biological characteristics is the subject of this thorough examination. In 1834, while exploring Lemuy Island in southern Chile, Charles Darwin discovered a previously unidentified species of frog with a pointy nose. Decades later, scientists noticed a curious detail about it: tadpoles frequently reside inside the male frogs’ vocal sacs—just one of several mysteries to emerge surrounding Darwin’s frog, some of which went unsolved well into the 20th century (the reason behind the frogs’ diminishing population remains an open question). Jenkins’s cut-paper constructions combine with Rodriguez’s portraits of scientists and with arresting color photographs of the frogs in the wild. Crump investigates a riddle of biodiversity with clarity and style. Ages 7–11. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
". . . Eye-catching and thought-provoking."—School Library Journal, starred review

". . . The eye-catching volume is illustrated with color photographs, detailed artistic renderings of the frog by Jenkins, and ink-and-watercolor portraits of the various human personalities involved by Rodriguez, making its creation as collaborative as science itself. An attractively designed and informative introduction to a fascinating amphibian full of strange suprises."—KIrkus Reviews

 ". . . Jenkin's cut-paper constructions combine with Rodriguez's portraits of scientists and with arresting color photographs of the frogs in the wild. Crump investigates a riddle of biodiversity with clarity and style."—Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
Not all frogs are created equal. Just like Darwin, I assumed that frogs change from egg to tadpoles to adult frogs, with the parent frogs only present at the egg stage. But during his famous voyage in the Beagle, Darwin found something weird. He found a frog species that appear to swallow their young, and eventually burp up the almost mature adults. This tale took several scientists and several decades to uncover, and on its own it would have made a spectacular science mystery, but Crump has a second mystery that keeps the reader on edge. She is a herpetologist, a scientist who studies frogs. And she travelled to Chile to see Darwin's frogs in their natural habitat. Her first-person description of her quest adds immediacy to her scientific quest. "I wondered if brooding males sought warmer areas to brood. Using a digital thermometer, we measured the temperature of the exact spot where we found each frog—on the surface of dirt, fallen leaves, or moss. We found that compared to other adults, brooding males hung out in warmer areas." The history along with the first person perspective makes her book an exciting read for both amphibian lovers and mystery lovers. Bright illustrations and photos help us understand this strange frog's life. Back matter includes an index, glossary, and listing of more resources. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Most frog species give parenting the go-bye after egg-laying and fertilization, but a select number of these amphibious hoppers take their nurturing skills seriously. One of these "caring" species is Rhinoderma darwinii, an inch-long frog discovered by Charles Darwin in Chile in 1834, while on his expedition aboard the Beagle. Other scientists investigated little Rhinoderma from time to time over the years, discovering that the males slurp up their almost-hatched or newly hatched tadpoles, brood them in their vocal sacs, and perhaps even feed them with substances released by the lining of the sac. Crump entered the Rhinoderma arena of investigation after years of work on other South American frog species, and in clear, readable prose she describes the earlier investigations of this intriguing frog and records her own efforts to document how it lives in the wild. She discusses her findings and goes on to present the problems facing not only Darwin's frogs, but also frogs in general-loss of habitat, pollution, and the assault of the lethal Bd fungus. The book is aglow with clear color photos and some great artwork. Team this with Laurence Pringle's fine Frogs! Strange and Wonderful (Boyds Mills, 2012), Nic Bishop's colorful Frogs (Scholastic, 2008), and Mark W. Moffett's eye-catching Face to Face with Frogs (National Geographic, 2008) for a fascinating unit, or, for more advanced frog lovers, with Sandra Markle's sterling The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs (Millbrook, 2012) and Pamela Turner's superb The Frog Scientist (Houghton, 2009). Eye-catching and thought-provoking.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
In an engaging blend of biology and history, frog scientist Crump tells the story of how we have come to know what we do about one of the world's most unusual frogs. The frog was first discovered by Charles Darwin in Chile in 1834 and later named for him. In 1848, a French zoologist found that one of Darwin's specimens was packed full of tadpoles. Scientists were baffled by this surprise. Was the frog a cannibal or a rare species that gave birth to live young instead of laying eggs? Crump explains how scientists eventually discovered that males of the species hold tadpoles safe in their vocal sacs until the polliwogs metamorphose into froglets. The latest mystery scientists are trying to unravel about Darwin's frog is the cause of a lethal fungus that may drive the species to extinction. The author also shares her firsthand experiences studying Darwin's frog in their natural habitat. The eye-catching volume is illustrated with color photographs, detailed artistic renderings of the frog by Jenkins, and ink-and-watercolor portraits of the various human personalities involved by Rodriguez, making its creation as collaborative as science itself. An attractively designed and informative introduction to a fascinating amphibian full of strange surprises. (glossary, bibliography, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590788646
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
04/01/2013
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
1,306,918
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
980L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Martha L. “Marty” Crump, PhD, is a behavioral ecologist who has studied Darwin’s frogs in their natural habitat in Chile. She has written six books, two of them for young readers. Her previous children’s book for Boyds Mills Press, Mysteries of the Komodo Dragon, was named a Best Book of the Year by Bank Street College of Education. She lives in Logan, UT.

Steve Jenkins has received numerous awards and critical praise for his artwork and innovative book design. His titles include Billions of Years, Amazing Changes; Actual Size; Prehistoric Actual Size; What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?; Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution; Sisters & Brothers; Move!; Hottest Coldest Highest Deepest; and many others. His books have sold more than one million copies worldwide. He lives in Boulder, CO.

Edel Rodriquez was born in Havana, Cuba, and studied painting at Pratt Institute and Hunter College. His work has appeared in five picture books, on stamps for the US Postal Service, and on posters for films and Broadway shows. He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker magazine and was an art director at Time magazine for more than a decade.

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