The third of the five books in the adaptations picture book series is about amphibians – Sunscreen, Frogsicles, and Other Amazing Amphibian Adaptations (Nomad Press, August 2020; illustrated by Katie Mazeika). Amphibians are the evolutionary link between fish and land-dwelling critters. And they are a strange lot.
One of my favorites is the Emei mustache toad. During mating season, the male toads grow a mustache. Mind you, they aren’t hairy mustaches. Theirs are made of spikes – 10-16 spikes made of keratin (like our fingernails). It gets better. They use these to have mustache fights! True fact. The males fight for the best nesting spot in the water that will attract females. They use those mustaches to stab their rivals and defend their spot. Eventually a female will show up, deposit eggs for the male to fertilize and tend to, and hop back into the woods. The males hang around caring for the eggs. Their spikes fall off. Once the eggs hatch, the males too head for the woods. And when mating season comes around again, they’ll be wielding an all-new mustache.