Behold! His time is at hand!
Behold! His time is at hand!
Deane P. Goodwin
Goodwin's Painting Service
woah, thats freaky. Something escaped from Abhoth.
That is quite bizarre.
Conjoined ('Siamese') twins seem to crop up from time-to-time in the animal kingdom as well as humans, but this is definitely the first case of conjoined triplets I've ever seen. Does anyone know whether this has been noted in humans?
Frogs do seem to be prone to extreme mutation. Every so often, Fortean Times reports a frog story like this. The usual 'science explanation' is that due to their moist skin, frogs are more subject to enviromental pollution and therefore mutation. My favourite example was a frog that had it's eyes in the roof of it's mouth
We do not stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing - George Bernard Shaw
Does anyone remember the bizarre parasite (possibly a virus) that requierd passgae through a Heron's gut as part of it's life cycle and thus would infect frogs, giving them weird deibilitating muattions in order to ensure they got eaten?
Or have I skipped my medication once too often?
It was on the BBC series on parasites the other day. Even more worrying is the brain parasites from in drivers of crashed vehicles, which slow down their reflexes and perhaps make them take more risks.
Apparently you can get it from undercooked meat. The prgramme suggested that a scary number of Frenchmen might have it, then a lesser number of Americans and then us Brits, presumeably because we like our steaks well done.
Barbarians. Meat should still go 'moo', (or perhaps 'aarrrrgh!') when you stick the fork in... What's the point of eating something if you can't taste the blood in it?Originally Posted by HJ
Scary. I get it...I think I like this site.Originally Posted by ThrallofCthulhu
Click here. It's been debunked. I also give the article the alternative title of "Too Much Information About the Private Lives of Frogs and Toads in Southern England" or "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride."
The alleged three-headed frog
The BBC news item, Puzzle over three-headed frog (originally titled "'Warning' over three-headed frog") spawned this story that swept the news media and the weblog circuit over the week following March 5th 2004. Briefly: staff and pre-school children at the Green Umbrella day nursery, Weston-super-Mare, UK, found the above. After they'd taken photos and a video, it escaped. The BBC took up the story, citing one of their own wildife experts, biologist and presenter Mike Dilger, as "stunned" and saying "it could be an early warning of environmental problems" (they published the same factoid in their CBBC Newsround children's section). From there, the tale snowballed to newspapers worldwide. Here's a slideshow of images at local6.com, and there are videos at CBS News (scroll down to "Freak Frog") and ITV West. But is it really a three-headed frog, or a hoax as some have suggested?
Short answer: neither. In my view, this is just multiple amplexus (aka a mating ball), typical frog and toad mating behaviour. For comparison, see these excellent and very clear photos of a frog three-way and frog four-way, from David Jones' Frog and Pond Diary. Note the early March date of these: in southern England, frogs spawn at this time of year, which supports the amplexus theory. Look at this or this for even weirder examples of anuran gang bangs that look like frog transporter accidents.
Mating of Anurans (frogs and toads) involves the male tightly clasping the female - this is called amplexus - for hours or even days, prior to externally fertilising her eggs. So we know what we're talking about, first check out this image of amplexus of toads, to see the posture. Here are many more pictures of frog amplexus. The grip is very strong; the male develops special pads on his thumbs to hold on, and won't let go even if the couple is picked up and handled. Some frogs, as 'axolotlman' comments in this Les Monde des reptiles thread, Grenouille tric├ęphale, secrete during amplexus an adhesive mucus so sticky that it's impossible to separate them without tearing the skin. Multiple amplexus is common, when more than one male grips the same female (or sometimes, mistakenly, another male).
So, the appearance of the supposed three-headed frog is entirely consistent with multiple amplexus. Have another look at David Jones' photo of frogs in embrace, and then study the above. There's a smallish female frog A being clasped by two larger male frogs B and C. The visible arms belong to A; those of B and C are hidden because they're underneath clasping A (though B's fingers are visible under A). The legs of A are hidden because it's smaller than the frogs on top, though there are toes showing below the left underside of C that may be A's left foot. There are four normal back legs in view: both legs of C and the right leg of B are on the ground, while B's left leg is lying on top of C.
Amplexus has been misinterpreted before by untrained observers, who didn't recognise it and thought the animals were joined together. See this Massachusetts MetroWest Daily News report of an alleged two-headed toad that turned out to be mating toads, and this article by Bernd Heinrich mentioning how "a woman once brought a thus engaged wood frog couple to [him], thinking it was a two-headed frog". However, according to newspaper accounts, this new case has also been endorsed by wildlife experts. One problem for me is that their descriptions don't match the photographic evidence. They say there are six legs - four at the back and two at the front. Yet this Weston Mercury picture - Six-eyed monster - and even more clearly, the Sun photo below - Frog's a triple jumper - show a further foreleg (apparently C's front left arm unclasped).
The photos also show protruding digits that suggest hidden limbs underneath; above, two fingers of B's left hand, and below (a detail of C's left side) A's left foot.
One thing I find very strange is that there are no pictures of the underside.
Other problems with three-headed frogs
If this were a three-headed frog as photographed, it would require a completely unprecedented teratology.
1) Although triple monsters have been described, the evidence is anecdotal.
2) Even assuming triple conjoining to be possible, conjoined siblings are genetically the same individual, so ought to be identical. However, these frogs are not; the head and arms A are much lighter in colour than B and C; and the back of C appears a slightly different colour to B. There are no substantiated examples of non-identical conjoining. The occasional cases of apparently conjoined non-identical multiples, such as the kittens picture half-way down this page, are generally considered to arise by their being stuck together after birth by dried mucus, etc.
3) The angle of the alleged conjoining is wrong. Conjoined siblings are generally joined - or branched - symmetrically about the same body part: back-to-back, shoulder-to-shoulder, etc. B and C might conceivably be conjoined, but you don't get positioning like A, with the back of one conjoined to the belly of the other.
4) The form doesn't match known pollution-induced frog teratology, which tends to involve missing limbs, missing eyes, and obviously abnormal extra limbs. Two-headed tadpoles have been created in the laboratory, and there's anecdotal evidence of two-headed frogs observed in the wild. However, the site of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the US Geological Survey Field Guide to Malformations of Frogs and Toads (PDF format) don't have any examples.
I have no idea why this story has spread so dramatically, with the majority of news sources copying it without critical or scientific analysis (this NovaScoop News page, for example, illustrates the story with a completely different image of toad amplexus). Perhaps the environmental angle - mutation caused by pollution - is the emotional hook. But there's also something very mediaeval about it: monstrous births presaging disaster. In this Frogs.org article, Hidden Agenda, Russell Wangersky points out the interplay of factors that can drive a story like this (in fact, the previously mentioned two-headed toad one). But whatever the reason, the BBC deserves a slap on the wrist for rushing into publication without more stringent checking and then, unlike the MetroWest DailyNews, failing to report counter-evidence. I e-mailed them straight away, criticising the facts of their coverage, but so far they've neither posted a follow-up nor replied to me. If you're a herpetologist and agree with my interpretation, maybe you could do a bit more than scoff and offer the BBC a reasoned refutation. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who actually saw the thing; I'd like to hear their explanation for the extra arm and visible digits that aren't described in the news reports.