A Toad That Rolls Down Hills to Escape Foes is Among the Discoveries of Visiting Biologist

Learn about the unusual creatures of the South American rainforest discovered by Dr. Bruce Means, when he lectures at Valencia College’s East Campus on Tuesday, November 1 from 1-2 p.m.

Means’ presentation, titled “Wild, Wild Lost Worlds of South America: Exploration, Discoveries, Secrets,” will include the discovery of a biodiversity hotspot on previously unexplored mesas called “tepuis” in Venezuela and Guyana. These table-top mountains are where Means has found numerous frogs, giant earthworms (named Andiorrhinus meansi after Means), and terrestrial crabs new to science, including the tumbling pebble toad that curls into a ball and hurtles itself down the side of a mountain to escape its predators.

To scientists, though, Means’ most exciting discovery is an entirely new family of frogs that occupies a critical link between those frogs that lay aquatic eggs that hatch into gilled larvae (tadpoles) and the several families of frogs that lay eggs that develop directly into froglets.

Means has published four books and 270 scientific research papers, and has authored articles that have appeared in Natural History, National Geographic, International Wildlife, National Wildlife, BBC Wildlife, South American Explorer and other natural history magazines. He co-produced and starred in eight documentary films for National Geographic Explorer, BBC Television and PBS. He is currently executive director of the Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy based in Florida and an adjunct professor at Florida State University.

Following the free presentation, Means will hold a book signing with copies of his “Stalking the Plumed Serpent and Other Adventures in Herpetology,” “Priceless Florida” and “Florida Magnificent Wilderness: State Lands, Parks and Natural Areas” available for sale.

The event, sponsored by Student Development, will take place in the Performing Arts Center on the college’s East Campus, which is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando. For more information, please call Steve Myers, Valencia professor of biology, at (407)582-2205.

The tumbling pebble toad can be seen in this feature story from BBC-Earth News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8307000/8307333.stm