How frogs climbed up into the Lost World: My story in tomorrow's New York Times

By Carl Zimmer | May 7, 2012 8:36 pm

The tepuis of northern South America–tabletop mountains ringed by sheer cliffs rising up thousands of feet–inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World. Doyle envisioned dinosaurs and other primordial creatures surviving on these remote islands in the sky.

It turns out that the tepuis are indeed ancient vestiges. The surrounding land eroded away 70 million years ago. Biologists have long been fascinated by the plants and animals that live on top of them today. In many cases, the species on a tepui are found nowhere else on Earth. Many have argued for the wonderfully-named “Lost World Hypothesis”–the unique species of the tepuis been stranded up there for 70 million years.

In tomorrow’s New York Times, I report on a team of scientists who tested that hypothesis by looking at the DNA of frogs that live on tepuis. And for them, at least, the hypothesis fails. Somehow, those tiny frogs managed to scale walls that strike fear in even the toughest rock climbers. For the full details, check out the story.

Image by Xyrenita on Flickr/via Creative Commons

Comments (2)

  1. Tony Mach

    Could the frogs have fallen down?

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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