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Topic: Flora & Fauna     Department: Letters

The "ribbit" heard 'round the world

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Your piece on the Pacific chorus frog was a nice tribute to this amphibian survivor and its champions (HCN, 3/21/2011). Mention of its "ribbits" -- only males call -- deserves amplification.

In 1951, Stanford University professor George Myers published an article in which he noted how the movie industry had spread the call of this frog wherever Hollywood had reached. The lack of respect for scientific accuracy -- associating the chorus frog ribbit with other frog species, or using it as an iconic night sound where the amphibian does not live -- continues in movies and television today.

Here are just a few classic and recent examples: Harpo Marx chases a leopard frog that ribbits in Monkey Business (1931). Ribbits reach Transylvania in Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Another leopard frog ribbits, this time in Mississippi, in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). In the introductory bit to PBS Nature, a ribbit sounds when a woodfrog is shown (2005).

Richard G. Zwiefel  
Portal, Arizona

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