Two genetically male frogs mating. The male frog on the bottom produces viable eggs because he was exposed to the pesticide atrazine early in life. Photo courtesy Tryone Hayes.

Tanzanian spray toads

Book Twelve...arrggghh!

Frog Blog: Writing, Science, and Nature

Beware the Zombie Frog

April 2, 2010

Tags: The Frog Scientist

THE FROG SCIENTIST was knocked out in a early round of School Library's Journal's Battle of the Books, but it came back as the winner of the Undead Poll, thanks to a wonderful post on Pharyngula, PZ Myer's famous science blog.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get back in the game after dislocating and fracturing my shoulder during a kendo match. Argh.

Japan Opposes Ban on Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fishing

March 5, 2010

Tags: bluefin tuna, fisheries, conservation

Atlantic bluefin tuna are horribly overfished. Three-fourths of the Atlatnic bluefin catch is consumed by Japan, which prizes the rich red meat as sashimi. The fish is so highly prized that the best can sell for over $400 a pound wholesale. The United States, complicit for years in Atlantic bluefin overfishing because of the obvious economic incentives, has finally gotten behind the total ban scientists think is necessary to preserve the species. Japan opposes the ban. A Washington Post article quotes a bluefin trader as saying the Japanese government had no choice: "We Japanese eat tuna." Imagine if this guy said: "We Japanese eat panda."

Battle of the Books

March 3, 2010

Tags: The Frog Scientist

School Library Journal runs a very fun "Battle of the Kids' Books" contest. The idea is to pick 16 children's books and have them pair off in matches judged by well-known children's authors. In my first round I'm up against THE LAST OLYMPIAN, only the most popular book of the year. I'm expecting a lightning bolt to get me. Or a giant wave. Or some other tragic Olympic disaster.

Now This Really is a Freaky Frog

March 2, 2010

Tags: The Frog Scientist, frogs, atrazine, endocrine disruption

The Washington Post just reported on a new study by Tyrone Hayes, star of THE FROG SCIENTIST. Tyrone exposed some African clawed frogs to atrazine in his lab and produced frogs that are genetically male but lay viable eggs. The transsexual frogs were produced at atrazine levels that are allowed in tap water.

Spray Toads

March 1, 2010

Tags: amphibian decline

Pity the poor spray toad, obliterated from the wild due to dam construction on the single river where they lived in Tanzania, and hurt by the chytrid fungus as well. Now 4,000 refugees are living in captivity at two zoos. It may not be possible to create a viable environment for a return to the wild. If they can't return to the wild, is there any reason to keep them alive in captivity? A really tough question.

AAAS in San Diego

February 24, 2010

Tags: The Frog Scientist, AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize

Last weekend I was in San Diego for the AAAS Annual Meeting. There were sessions on food security, ocean acidification, the concept of time, the ethics of dolphin research, and hundreds of other topics. I told everyone I felt like a cat in a fish market. On Saturday night AAAS/Subaru SB&F awarded the science writing prizes (THE FROG SCIENTIST was the middle grade winner). It was so nice to meet so many people who value science writing--I met Diana Lutz, who used to edit Muse magazine, and Terry Young, the Chair of the Committee that awarded FROG the prize. He's a biologist with advanced degrees in education and library services. I'm so glad to know people like that exist! I also met Molly Bang, the winner in the picture book category for LIVING SUNLIGHT, which was one of my favorite books of the year. And the young adult winner, Idan Ben-Barak, was adorable. I bought his book about microbes and can't wait to read it. Julian, husband of Maren, chair of the committee that chose Idan's book, took some great photos and posted them on his blog.

Atrazine in the News Again (Unfortunately)

February 16, 2010

Tags: The Frog Scientist, atrazine, endocrine disruption

Atrazine, the chemical Tyrone Hayes studies (also the subject of my book THE FROG SCIENTIST, has been linked to a birth defect. Brita water filter, anyone?

THE FROG SCIENTIST wins a Cybils Award

February 14, 2010

Tags: The Frog Scientist, Cybils Award

THE FROG SCIENTIST just won a Cybils Award for young adult nonfiction. (The Cybils is the children's and young adult bloggers' literary award.) What a great Valentine's Day surprise!

The Gathering Storm

February 8, 2010

Tags: Random blog post

I started reading Robert Jordan's WHEEL OF TIME series years and years ago. The first five volumes were excellent. And then...the cast of characters expanded, the books got longer and longer, and the plot slowed. I finally decided Robert Jordan must have a gargantuan mortgage and was deliberately drawing out the conclusion. I refused at that point to buy any more books, though I did check the new volumes out at the library. And then Robert Jordan died, leaving WHEEL OF TIME unfinished. He left behind some sort of outline, and so the publisher found a co-author to write the conclusion. When the guy posted a 5,000 word explanation of why the "final volume" would need to be broken into three 800-page books, I really wanted to go on strike. But my husband wanted the newest, THE GATHERING STORM, so in protest I bought a used copy. And guess what? Robert Jordan must've risen from the dead, because it's got his signature! OK, I guess now I have to read this magical tome.

Books for Young Readers
The epic life of Minamoto Yoshitsune, Japan's most famous warrior.
Welcome to New Caledonia, where the forests are green and the crows are geniuses. Coming in August 2016 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
We know dolphins are smart. But WHY are they smart? A look into a very special community of wild bottlenose dolphins.
Seahorses and people share a damaged Philippine coral can it be saved?
Why are frog populations dying? Follow biologist Tyrone Hayes as he uncovers how pesticide use turns some male frogs into bizarre half-male, half-female creatures.
The story of the world's greatest field biologist and his life among gorillas, tigers, lions, snow leopards, panda bears and more.
This book should carry a warning sticker: DOG LOVERS WILL NEED KLEENEX.
If you sneeze on a gorilla, it can catch your cold. Keeping gorillas safe from human diseases is just one of the challenges facing these dedicated wildlife vets.
Astrobiologist Chris McKay has one of the coolest jobs around: searching Earth for clues about how life might have formed on other planets.
One shark, one sea turtle, one tuna, two seabirds...and one very big ocean.