Easy Being Green: When Frogs Ruled The World


Yes, it’s easy being green. Or at least it was, 66 million years ago, when the humble frog ruled the world.

That’s according to a new joint study by UCLA and Sun-Yat Sen University in China, which claims the asteroid that saw off T-Rex spawned (sorry!) a massive population explosion in our little green friends.

What’s Bad For The Dinosaur Is Good For The Frog

The dino’s untimely demise created an evolutionary vacuum, and Kermit hopped right into it.

There were other survivors of course: small rodents, a handful of crocs and gators – basically anything small enough to scurry underground or canny enough to submerge itself up to the eyeballs in mud at the first sign of trouble…but it was frogs in particular that flourished.

They multiplied and diversified, triggering a global swarm, spreading across our adolescent world like little green pimples.

Our hoppity friends inserted themselves into every nook, every ecological cranny they could find, and with an abundance of food and few natural predators, Earth, for a time, became a virtual planet of the frogs.

Adapt, Green Friend, Or Die

As the world recovered, frogs had to adapt, existing alongside mega-carnivores like Titanoboa (a pants-soiling fifty-foot snake), sharing their swamps and pools with massive ancient crocs and hungry snapping turtles as big as small cars; but frogs are nothing if not adaptable, and even in this new hostile world they managed to stay one hop ahead; they even had their own flirtation with the colossal – a supersized Kermit, as big as a beach-ball!

The giants died out when the atmosphere changed, but all this frenzy of multiplication and modification means that today there are nearly 7,000 different species of frog, and this plucky little tetrapod can be found on virtually every continent on Earth.

It’s why the French can eat more than 4,000 tonnes of frogs legs a year without making a dent, why Sir Paul McCartney never had any trouble recruiting his frog chorus (Google it kids, it’s magical), and why, still, despite global warming, despite deforestation and despite the French, this amphibious interloper continues to thrive…

Frog Diversity

There’s red ones, yellow ones, poisonous ones, psychedelic ones (just ask a child of the sixties if they ever licked a frog), and there’s teeny tiny ones no bigger  than your thumbnail, roaming the leaf-litter of the Brazilian rainforest searching desperately for a microscopic mate.

Science, Medicine & Our Little Green Helper

The frog has done more for modern science than nearly any other creature alive, from helping to fight disease, to its regular guest spot on secondary school dissection trays…and it all happened by chance…

A six-mile wide boulder tumbling through the emptiness of space, colliding with a small blue-green dot, triggering a biological cataclysm that saw Kermie hop out of his primordial rock-pool and take his rightful place as King of the amphibians.

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Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scientific Journal, July 2017. Lead authors: Professor David B. Wake, University of California; Professor Yan-Ji Feng, Sun Yat-Sen University.

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