The case of the exploding toads

A pond is surrounded by the bodies of a thousand dead toads, all of which appear to have died in a particularly gruesome way: they had exploded, in some cases with such force that their internal organs were thrown some distance away.

The water quality of the pond was fine. No toxins or viruses were found to explain the mystery. But dissections of the toads found that they were all missing…

…their livers.

That, plus one other clue, told scientists what had happened to the toads.

I do love a good whodunit.

(Hat top to Alma.)

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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4 Responses to The case of the exploding toads

  1. Hick Crone says:

    Normally, I would root for the amphibian, especially if it was a Pacific Tree Frog. In this case, I choose the raven over the toad. If I hear ravens when I am out walking, I can almost always get them to talk to me, though I never know how my squawk is interpreted…

  2. Inge says:

    Love the story. I wonder if they still do it today…

  3. Ana_ñ says:

    I love the story, too. Astounding!
    And the nut-cracking refinement is amazing.

  4. Power Wench says:

    Bewildering to think about how exactly the crows worked out that a toxic-skinned animal has a tasty bit inside and precisely where to peck to extract it.
    Here in summer, I see the local crows on the beach hunting over the wet sand to locate the egg-carrying female Emerita (mole crabs) that live buried just under the sand in the swash zone. The successful crow pulls the hapless Emerita out of the sand, flips her over, pecks off the nutrient-rich eggs that are carried under the crab’s abdomen, and then leaves the crab lying upside-down on the beach to live or die while the crow goes for another. I first noticed the behavior several years ago, when it seemed to be just one or two crows doing it, but it appears they have taught their offspring the foraging strategy. One day last summer I observed a small group of 10-12 crows hunting Emerita, and they must have been at it for a couple of hours since there were hundreds of stripped female Emerita carcasses littered about.

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