Of Whisky and Frogs

We have a radio station programmed into our media player, a quirky French station called Swing FM, ‘la radio du Hot-Club de Limoges’. They play a round-robin mix of jazz, swing, gospel, boogie and blues, almost all of it American and much of it pre-1955. I had it playing yesterday and this great whisky song came up, just right for this blog:

I grew up listening to this kind of music, and I’d never heard this sweet tune or singer. If I have, I don’t recall, which is almost the same as not knowing in the first place. The American tune took the roundabout path to me, an American, via a French swing station that has its own perspective of what constitutes a worthy playlist.

It made me think of the recent announcement of a new kind of flying frog in Vietnam – Helen’s Flying Frog, to be exact. Rhacophorus helenae.

Helen's Flying FrogPhoto source:  Jodi J L Rowley/Australian Museum
Helen’s Flying Frog
Photo source: Jodi J L Rowley/Australian Museum

Sometimes it takes an outsider’s eye to recognize something within its own habitat. Australian researcher Jodi Rawley found a sweet hidden gem in the low-lying evergreen forest just outside Ho Chi Minh City. From what I gather, being a flying frog is nothing special, as frogs go. Over half of the 4,800 known frog species have evolved some mechanism for gliding over some distance. Still, this frog had not yet been identified as a separate species, in spite of its proximity to around 8 million people – of whom at least a few must be forest biologists or amateur herpetologists. And yet there was Rhacophorus helenae, just standing around on a log, unique and unnamed.

Need I even add that few specimens of the frog have been found, that researchers are searching in other similar terrains for other populations, and that the frog will likely be declared endangered? Or that we can only discover gems if the habitat is still intact? Or that this habitat is rapidly disappearing? Of course not. Any more than I need to mention how much I would miss Swing FM if it were to go off the airwaves.

Journal of Herpetology