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.
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Simonetta Coleman
1 month ago

Can you buy them?

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