Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on January 23, 2008
I usually associate Top 100 lists with things like Forbes’ Richest Over-Achievers Under 25 (I mean, Entrepreneurs); Maxim’s Hottest and Brightest Babes and Teeth — or if you watch brain-atrophying channels like E! Entertainment, Hollywood’s Most Shockingly-Awful and Shameful Celebrity Break-ups/Cellulite/Escapades of All Time.
Good stuff, but now for something completely different: The Zoological Society of London’s Top 100 Weirdest Amphibians. ZSL made the announcement as part of its EDGE program, which is short for Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered. Amphibians are “extraordinary survivors,” says the organization’s Helen Meredith. “Ninety percent of our top 100 amphibians survived the extinction of the dinosaurs.”
Despite this incredible feat, 85 of the 100 receive little or no conservation efforts and are likely to become extinct if action is not taken quickly. The EDGE Amphibians Initiative is a follow-up to the EDGE Mammals Initiative, which was launched in 2007.
So, which amphibians were weird enough to make the list? The one jumping out at me (not literally, thank goodness) is the Chinese giant salamander, which is described as “a slimy lizard-like animal which breathes through its skin.” Amazingly, it preceded the Tyrannosaurus Rex by a cool 100 million years. Another curious phib is a transparent-skinned, cave dwelling salamander from Europe, which can go without food for an amazing 10 years. Also of interest is the Seychelles — the world’s smallest frog, which grows to just 11 mm in length.
Why should we care about these creatures? Says Meredith: “If the amphibians start to decline on a global scale, we know we are inhabiting a dying planet.”
She’s got a point there. This Top 100 list maybe the most important of all. Let’s keep our eyes on the amphibians.