This simple tub full of albino African clawed frogs is so surreal and haunting

Like if souls exist somewhere before they’re born I bet it looks exactly like this. Including the plastic tote and dirty water.

…And even though you were in this pre-life form for the infinite span before you had an Earthly body, there actually isn’t any afterlife. Sorry.



I had been on the ground helping Al Jazeera America cover the protests and unrest in Ferguson, Mo., since this all started last week. After what I saw last night, I will not be returning. The behavior and number of journalists there is so appalling, that I cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of the spectacle.

Things I’ve seen:

-Cameramen yelling at residents in public meetings for standing in way of their cameras

-Cameramen yelling at community leaders for stepping away from podium microphones to better talk to residents

-TV crews making small talk and laughing at the spot where Mike Brown was killed, as residents prayed, mourned

-A TV crew of a to-be-left-unnamed major cable network taking pieces out of a Ferguson business retaining wall to weigh down their tent

-Another major TV network renting out a gated parking lot for their one camera, not letting people in. Safely reporting the news on the other side of a tall fence.

-Journalists making the story about them

-National news correspondents glossing over the context and depth of this story, focusing instead on the sexy images of tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.

-One reporter who, last night, said he came to Ferguson as a “networking opportunity.” He later asked me to take a picture of him with Anderson Cooper. 

One anecdote that stands out: as the TV cameras were doing their live shots in front of the one burnt-out building in the three-block stretch of “Ground Zero,” around the corner was a community food/goods drive. I heard one resident say: “Where are the cameras? I’m going to go see if I can find some people to film this.”

Last night a frustrated resident confronted me when he saw my camera: “Yall are down here photographing US, but who gets paid?!” 



Mantella aurantiaca Mocquard, 1900


Mantella aurantiaca is native to the swamps and nearby humid Pandanus forests in a small part of eastern Madagascar.

Morphology & Colouration:

Mantella aurantiaca is a small, charismatic frog, reaching adult sizes of around 20-31 mm. Males typically reach only 24mm, while females are larger. Like most Mantella species, it has smooth skin and unwebbed toes without toe-pad enlargement.

This species has extremely distinctive colouration, a golden yellow-orange dorsal colouration, with bright red markings on the insides of its shanks. Its ventral skin is like its dorsal colouration, but more transparent.

Habits and Ecology:

Mantella aurantiaca can be found in sun-exposed sites on the ground during the day. The call consists of a series of short notes.

Like all Mantella species, M. aurantiaca sequesters alkaloids from its prey in its skin, making it extremely toxic. Its diet, however, is fairly broad (Woodhead et al. 2007). Nevertheless, it is known to be consumed by Zonosaurus lizards and Thamnosophis snakes (Jovanovic et al. 2009).

Conservation Status:

Mantella aurantiaca is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, due to its extremely limited distribution, being found at only a few locations, ongoing illegal collection for the pet trade (M. aurantiaca is a CITES II species without an export quota), and the ongoing destruction of its habitat.

Systematics and Taxonomy:

Mantella aurantiaca is easy to distinguish from all other described Mantella species, being most similar to M. milotympanum, but differing from that species by the absence of a black-coloured tympanum and nostril. There are some populations attributed to M. aurantiaca that are taxonomically unclear - they may be another, undescribed species. Genetic variability within M. aurantiaca is low.


Animalia-Chordata-Amphibia-Anura-Mantellidae-Mantella-M. aurantiaca

First photo by Frank Vassen.

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Jovanovic, O., M. Vences, G. Safarek, F. C. E. Rabemananjara & R. Dolch (2009) Predation upon Mantella aurantiaca in the Torotorofotsy wetlands, central-eastern Madagascar. Herpetology Notes 2:95-97

Woohead, C., M. Vences, D. R. Vieites, I. Gamboni, B. L. Fisher & R. A. Griffiths (2007) Specialist or generalist? Feeding ecology of the Malagasy poison frog Mantella aurantiaca. Herpetological Journal 17:225-236