Tadpoles lure researcher Ronald Altig from Mississippi to the Australian Museum.
Australian Museum amphibian biologist Jodi Rowley and I had corresponded for a while before we met at the 7th Herpetological Congress in Vancouver, Canada in 2012.
Initially our emails were centered around some amazing “fanged” tadpoles that Jodi and her colleagues had discovered in Vietnam, but after the conference our electronic interactions continued. Eventually the idea of me coming to Australia to work with her on tadpoles from Vietnam bubbled to the surface.
I was awarded a Geddes Visiting Research Fellowship from the Australian Museum for a month-long visit, and I chose the period of November-December 2013. I recovered from the extremely long flight from Dallas, Texas rather quickly, and progress on the various research projects has gone quite well.
I’ve even had two lessons from a kind lady from a nearby office on how even an American can learn to walk on the correct side of the hallway!
The Australian Museum has numerous collections of frog eggs and tadpoles that have been identified genetically, and our main focus was to get descriptions written of many specimens collected by Jodi. Some specimens were observed, measured, and photographed intact with the variable magnifications offered by a dissecting microscope.
Others had to be dissected to see the intricate soft and keratinized mouthparts. Other structures that are particularly small were observed with a scanning electron microscope which provides digital images at much higher magnfications than a dissecting microscope can present and have great depth of focus.
In the last three and a half weeks, we have made considerable progress on understanding the morphology of a number of tadpoles and prepared descriptions of these specimens that will be published in various scientific journals. Stay tuned!
Professor Emeritus Ronald Altig
Geddes Visiting Research Fellow