Harry Greene, “Frogs and Snakes: The Texture of Diversity”

ENST / 302
March 5, 1999

The lecture that was given by Dr. Greene proved to be well worth attending. He focused on snakes and frogs primarily and his in-depth knowledge of biology in the field proved to be very helpful in explaining the evolution, reproduction, and behavior patterns in these creatures. Also, throughout his lecture he touched on important concepts concerning biodiversity, humans, and extinction. He mentioned a quote that seemed to encompass his attitudes and his lecture: “Nature reminds one of a princess caught by pirates who cuts off her fingers to get the jewels she wears”(Taylor?).
In the first part of his lecture he primarily talked about frogs. He divided them into three major categories: frogs, toads, and tree frogs. All of which have been constructed by nature to be “jumping machines” due to their lack of tail and large hind quarters. When he was explaining this he emphasized the complexity of these animals by illustrating the various amphibian breeding processes: from on land to completely submerged. One particular species even spend a period of maturation in the vocal chords of the male...interesting.
The next portion of his lecture concerned snakes. Among the behaviors he discussed, eating was a predominant one. Why? Because any amphibian that can eat a cow or human definitely has an evolutional advantage. In Dr. Greene’s discussion of the eating process he demonstrated an exercise that the audience could do. It helped explain the difference between common amphibian’s(frog or lizard) lower jaw bones and snakes’. The exercise highlighted the “extra link” that allows snakes to swallow large objects and identified it to our human shoulder.
Speaking more about his own studies he explained the tracking technology involved in observing rattlesnakes; his studies were primarily focused in the Chiracabba(sp?) Mts. He has been tracking one of the snakes for nine years and has gained detailed knowledge of the lifestyle of this species. Even more astounding is that he has been tracking amphibians for most of his life and providing people with this knowledge through teaching and writing. I enjoyed the lecture and am glad I went.