Some frogs in danger of extinction


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When we hear the same message, over and over, from multiple sources, it begins to sink in.

Dr. Kerry Kriger may have looked like a passive observer at the California Academy of Sciences, but he knows too much. This is a man who has traveled the world, in search of frogs, and formed a non-profit in an effort to save them.

The idea of 'Frogs in Danger' may surprise many people, but not researchers and museum archivists, who have noticed a dramatic decline all amphibians. Among them is

Jens Vindum manages the California Academy of Science's collection.

"About 100 years ago, when they collected, they could find them in any creek. You look in those creeks now and you cannot find the species that were there before," said Vindum.

If you look back in the fossil record going back 250 million years, we see that one frog species might go extinct roughly every 500 years. But in the last 30, we have lost 200 species.

"The disappearance of frogs, right now, is the biggest extinction event in 65 million years," said Kriger, PhD.

Frogs and amphibians are what science calls 'indicator species' -- Nature's real canary in the coalmine doesn't make bird sounds, it croaks.

"Everything the frogs encounter gets absorbed in the skin, so polluting chemicals and pesticides go right to the frog system," said Kriger, PhD.

The California Academy of Sciences keeps some 95,000 specimens downstairs. Among them is the six pound Goliath Frog from West Africa and it is endangered because it makes such a good meal.

The Southern Gastric Brooding frog is already extinct. Females would eat their young to protect them from predators.

"And then a month later, out would pop the tadpoles," said Kriger, PhD.

But not any longer -- one more bit of living diversity that not even a museum can preserve.

Dr. Kriger will speak on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. at the California Academy of Sciences. The event is free.

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