Spot the wood frog

Why Evolution Is True

by Greg Mayer

Well, it’s not that hard to spot, but you can see how the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) is aptly named.

Wood frog, near Lake Superior, Minnesota, 6 June 2014. Wood frog, near Lake Superior, Minnesota, 10 June 2014.

My Minnesota correspondent found this fellow along Caribou Trail (a road) and Jonvick Creek near Lutsen, Cook County, Minnesota, about a half mile from the north shore of Lake Superior, on 10 June 2014. The region is mixed spruce and maple forest; the frog was in a “mapley” area. The great herpetologist Robert C. Stebbins thought the species’ distribution tracked, for much of its range, pretty closely to the distribution of spruce.

The distribution of wood frogs is interesting for at least two reasons. First, they are the most northerly distributed of any North American amphibian (or reptile, for that matter), and extremes are always interesting. They can survive for weeks at temperatures below freezing

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