C l a u d e    G a s c o n

The most inspiring moment I’ve had didn’t really have to do with research per se; it was just a moment, one of these moments that makes you reflect over a whole series of things in life.

It was an encounter that I had with a frog, a frog of about an inch long, an adult frog, the poison arrow frog, very colorful. And poison arrow frogs here in the Amazon have evolved to take, at least for part of the life cycle of their young, to take care of their young. So they will lay eggs in a terrestrial nest—they don’t deposit eggs in the water like most North American frogs—and then the male will actually defend that nest until the eggs hatch. When the eggs hatch, the male will back into the nest, and the tadpoles, through reflex, will jump onto the male’s back. And then the male will actually carry these tadpoles, his young, on his back for maybe several hours a day until he finds a pond where he then backs into the pond and the tadpoles go into the water.

Well, the first time I came across a one-inch frog that has a brain perhaps the size of half a pea carrying young, actually taking care of its own progeny, I guess I shouldn’t say that I cried, but I did cry, I had a tear coming down from my eye, because it was just such a wonderful sight to see such a small animal, that in terms of intelligence it is not something that we can really relate to, but certainly it has some intelligence and some reflexes of having evolved this lifestyle of caring for its young, just caring for its young in such a hostile environment. Well, it was something that just had me reflect for the rest of my ten years here, really.

Claude’s Interviews Frogs    1     2     3     4