News from the Columbia Climate School

Wondrous Wildlife of The Week – The Pebble Toad

Toad on Pebbles – Photo by Quinn Anya
The Pebble Toad

Organisms in the natural world are constantly striving to avoid predation. Some prey depend on morphological characters to outsmart a worthy predator, utilizing camouflage or mimicry to avoid detection; others must engage in battle, relying on agility or strength. The Venezuela pebble toad, however, has an extremely peculiar defense mechanism: it rolls itself into the shape of a rock and bounces haphazardly down a hill.

The pebble toad deploys the “rock and roll” strategy by folding its legs and arms under its body and then tightening its muscles, thus assuming a spherical position. These light weight amphibians then begin an epic descent down a declined surface, much to the disappointment of a hungry tarantula or snake looming above.

Though the toad is so tiny that it is a poor swimmer and jumper, its unique design reduces the force of impact as it makes its great escape into a safer crack or puddle down below.

Interested in learning more? Check out a YouTube video of the pebble toad in action, taken from the BBC’s “Life” documentary series.

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
Subscribe
Notify of

1 Comment
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Simonetta Coleman
1 month ago

Can you buy them?

1
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x