• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Precious Wonder

Air Date: Week of

Tom Lopez offers an ode to the magic and music of the singing frogs of South America’s Pantanal region.


CURWOOD: Often we learn about rare animals from serious biologists who travel many miles and endure many hardships to research the creatures that fascinate them. But we can also get a keen sense of appreciation and wonder for nature's critters from someone who freely admits he knows next to nothing about science. Someone like producer Tom Lopez. Here’s his lesson about the frogs of the Pantanal.


LOPEZ: I recorded these frogs in the Pantanal. The Pantanal is a floodplain or what I'd call a big swamp. It's mainly in Brazil but extends into Bolivia and Paraguay. They claim it's about 230,000 square kilometers. That's almost five times the size of Costa Rica. There's a lot of wildlife, especially at night, as you can hear. They sound like something from the planet Venus. I call them the singing frogs of the Pantanal. I think they're frogs.They could be toads.

Let me play you something else.


LOPEZ: They're what's known as your common garden toad. You'd never expect something with so many warts could sing like this. And listen to the way they all get together into these toad choruses, all twirling away. Reminds me of Moroccan women, the way they twirl.

We also have tree toads. They're tiny little green things about the size of your thumb. Amazing voices these little fellows have. You can tell it's a tree toad because you'll hear them up in the air above your head, twirling in some tree.

Meanwhile, back in the Pantanal – like I said, I don't know if these are frogs or if they're toads – but I'll tell you a story. There was a holy man. This is a true story, by the way, and it's a contemporary story. This contemporary holy man enjoyed going for walks in the woods, preferably alone. But living nearby was a university professor who loved to join the holy man on his walks. As they walked along, the professor would name everything. That tree belongs to whatever species, and that plant is such and such. That bush over there is so and so. That bird that just flew by is a whatever. The professor was a very informed man.

So, finally, the holy man said something that the professor never could quite get. The holy man said, "Drop your knowledge, knowledge is worthless. Wonder is precious."


LOPEZ: Isn't this one of the most beautiful things you've ever heard?


LOPEZ: But still, I wonder, is it a frog or is it a toad?


CURWOOD: The singing frogs of the Pantanal was produced by Tom Lopez as part of the Hearing Voices series, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.




Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth