Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Tale of Captivity, A Fungus Among Us, and a Very Small Dating Pool


Juliet, one of five Sehuencas water frogs found at the base of a Bolivian waterfall. Look at those eyes like holographic galaxies, the reaches of dark outer space! How could she and her frog companions have reached the brink of extinction? The chytridiomycosis fungus spread quickly among them, while invasive trout popped into the mountain rivers to munch up the water frog's eggs.

Then there's Romeo, who's been waiting for some of his froggy kind in a Bolivian museum for ten years. The scientists, thinking of Romeo, would go on forays into the cloud forest to search for more Sehuencas. For ten years, the researchers hiked, sometimes seemingly aimlessly. Look at that orange underbelly, those shimmering yellow eye-globes, those velvety indigo arms and rippled back, those expressive fingers, that reproachful zig-zag posture!

Poor Romeo gave up hope and stopped sounding his mating call around 2017. He was like, Why make the effort? with the shrug of single people everywhere. Except this male Sehuencas, graced with a becursed name by his guardians, was single in a very unique way that had everything to do with the non-frogs.

On the very last trail through the cloud forest, in the rush and crash of the waterfall, the herpetologists found three male and two female Sehuencas hunkered down in the water. What must they have felt, likely the last of their kind? At least they had stuck together.

What if you were presented with a dating pool consisting of five (if you're adaptable)--perhaps two (if you're not)--options? A very minimalist edition of the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Would you snub your nose at the reduced choice set? Or would you kick your Sehuencas legs?

Looking at the pic of Juliet, though--isn't she irresistible? Let's hope so.

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