Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Watch This Amphibian

If this common toad (Bufo bufo) jumps out of that hand and goes into hiding, it might indicate something more than a skittish toad that doesn't want to stand in its own urine -- it might indicate a large earthquake is imminent:

The best hope yet of an earthquake predictor could lie in a small, brown, knobbly amphibian, [preliminary research] suggests.

The male common toad (Bufo bufo) gave five days' warning of the earthquake that ravaged the town of L'Aquila in central Italy on April 6, 2009 ... By March 28, more than 90 male toads had mustered for the spawning season, but two days later, their numbers suddenly fell ... By April 1 -- five days before the quake -- 96 percent of the males had fled.
Check your male toad supplies. If their numbers have dropped sharply in recent days, and it isn't because you've been killing them or letting them be killed for sport (you sick bastard!), brace your valuables, stock up on necessities, gather all your spare bubble wrap around, stand in the sturdiest load bearing door frame you can find, and hold that position until the large earthquake comes.

The study raises a troubling question: where do the male toads go? I'm no population biologist, but I would think that the mass "vanishing" of toads from one place must correspond with a mass "appearing" of toads in another place, or group of places. People in those places will, on the strength of this study, tend to cease their preparations for earthquakes, and speaking from the heart of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, this simply won't do. We need to be surrounded by bubble wrap and standing in sturdy door frames at all hours of all days, regardless of the male toad count.*

So long as living male toads exist on earth -- the very kind this study purports to monitor -- a rough analog to a law of thermodynamics holds: living male toads cannot be created or destroyed, but just go from place to place according to the locations of geophysical calamities.

* I kid because I'm terrified.


Domestically Challenged said...

I'll share with you MY toad collection. Like carrier toads, I'll train them to go back and forth btwn our houses.

13 yrs now I have lived in this fair city, and not a single earthquake have I felt. I miss them.

I wonder if the big one on the CSZ will feel anything like the ones on San Andreas that I grew up with. We had a 6.9 when I was a freshman in HS. Only time will tell. Too bad we don't have retrofitted houses as we did back in California. That's gonna suck.

Honestly, I'm more worried about Hood popping her top than I am about the CSZ quake. I have images of Mt Hood blowing and then all our mini pdx volcanos (Scott, Tabor) firing off too because the pressure is just too much for one venting.

Dale said...

DC -- In short, we're all doomed. I cannot disagree. Soon enough we will be among the people about whom others wag their fingers and say, "what the hell were they doing trying to put a city there in the first place?" Oh well, we will have had a good run.

I desperately miss toads. There were lots of them in Oklahoma. I don't miss them enough to go back to Oklahoma.