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Frog Diversity Museum Exhibit Opens

By DEEPTI HAJELA
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - It's quite the colorful new ex-gribbit, er, exhibit. "Frogs: A Chorus of Colors," at the American Museum of Natural History, introduces viewers to the multihued and diverse world of the amphibians, from the dart poison frogs of Central and South America to the bullfrogs of the United States.

The show, which opens Saturday and runs through Oct. 3, looks at more than 200 frogs, representing at least two dozen species from around the world. Among the highlights are nine species of the highly toxic dart poison frogs, so named because their secretions are used to coat the blow darts used by the Embera Choco people of northwestern Colombia. One of the tiny, golden poison frogs has enough poison to kill 10 people.

The frogs become toxic from the insects they eat. But the public needn't worry: The ones in the show are harmless. They have been bred in captivity on a diet that doesn't have any of the poisonous compounds.

The other frogs in the exhibit showcase their diversity, in appearance, environment and habits.

The Vietnamese mossy frogs, found in the northern part of Vietnam, have skin that's textured and colored in ways that make them look like moss. (There are more than a dozen in the show; try to find them all!)

The waxy monkey frogs of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia live in a dry, hot place and use a waxy secretion to seal moisture into their bodies.

Chinese gliding frogs, native to southeastern China, have webbing between their toes that allows them to glide as they jump from branch to branch. And smoky jungle frogs, found in Central and South America, are a commonly eaten delicacy.

The exhibit's curator, Christopher Raxworthy, said frogs are important to study because they are extremely sensitive to changes in the environment and can be good early indicators of ecological changes that could potentially impact on a wider scale.

"When we see frogs disappearing, that should be a warning to all of us," he said.

And, of course, they're just fun to watch, said 15-year-old Will Bartow, of Garrison, N.Y., who made a special trip to the museum just to see the exhibition.

"I just think they're so cool," the ninth-grader said. "It's just fun to watch them jump around."

The exhibit includes a number of interactive displays and cameras to allow viewers to zoom in for closer looks at the dart poison frogs. The museum is also presenting lectures, tours and children's workshops to coincide with the show, which will not travel.

___

On the Net:

American Museum of Natural History: http://www.amnh.org/


(Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



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