Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Yuk! exploding frogs, parasitic tongues & a city coated in silk - Nature's Weirdest Events BBC2

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BBC TWO, 8pm 3rd & 4th January 2011

In two freakily curious episodes Chris Packham takes us around the world to the scene of some of the weirdest natural events on the planet. From exploding toads and parasitic tongue action, to a city coated in caterpillar silk, and the incredible sea foam which turns the Australian coast into the world's biggest bubble bath. With the help of footage taken by eyewitnesses and news crews, he unravels the facts and the science behind each phenomenon.

BBC Programme Page
Read more about freaky nature on BBC Nature
Parasitic Tongue Action

The female of Cymothoa exigua, otherwise known as the tongue-eating louse,  is one of almost 400 species known to attach to the tongues of fish after entering through the gills. Once in place, the parasites feed on the fish, eating away their flesh and feeding on their blood supply, fortunately the fish is able to use the swelling parasite just like a normal tongue. The male louse can also come along for the ride, attaching to the gill arches beneath and behind the female.

Exploding Toads

In April 2005, in the Altona district of Hamburg, more than 1000 dead toads were found to have inexplicably exploded prompting local residents to refer to the area's lake as "Tümpel des Todes" (Pool of Death). According to a witness these frogs swelled by three-and-a-half times their normal size before blowing up. Some of the frogs even lived a short time afterwards with their intestines sperad for more than a metre around them.

The finger was inititally pointed at a suspected viral or fungal infection, until Berlin veterinarian Franz Mutschmann performed necropsies on then toads and theorised that the phenomenon was linked to a recent influx of predatory crows. Like a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, he believed that these crows had ripped through the amphibian's chest and abdominal cavity to pick out the liver. In a typical defensive move, the toads begin to inflate themselves, but due to the hole in the toad's body and the missing liver, this led to a rupture of blood vessels and lungs, and to the spreading of intestines. Mutschmann said "Crows are intelligent animals. They learn very quickly how to eat the toads' livers."

Rotterdam Coated in Silk


  1. Another great prog that I would have missed if it wasnt for you!!! Thanks Paul.

  2. Enjoyed the program. I want to find out the musice playing whilst the clip showing 'a murmuration of starlings'?

  3. Have you tried something like soundhound on the iPhone which can recognise commercial music? I suspect that its not a commercial track, it's probably just from an editors stock music library.

  4. Have it on my HTC so may try it, cheers

  5. Tried it but no success :(

  6. Enjoy the programme but the presenters voice is highly annoying