National Geographic Society Newsroom

Guyana Frog Travelogue

Last time I posted, I promised stories from my trip to Guyana in July 2007. I was on a quest for some of the country’s exotic (and toxic!) frogs with collaborator Bruce Means, Executive Director of the Coastal Plains Institute and an adjunct professor at Florida State University. Tropical rainforest covers more than 80 percent—80...

27_Oreo.jpg

Last time I posted, I promised stories from my trip to Guyana in July 2007. I was on a quest for some of the country’s exotic (and toxic!) frogs with collaborator Bruce Means, Executive Director of the Coastal Plains Institute and an adjunct professor at Florida State University.

Tropical rainforest covers more than 80 percent—80 percent—of the English-speaking country of Guyana, bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, Suriname, and South America’s northern coast.

4_GuyanaHighlands-from-plane_CLARK.jpg

From the air, much of the country’s highlands look like this, a dense carpet of lush tropical rain forests.

6_villageGuest-house.jpg

We began our trek from a small guesthouse at the base of the Wokomung Massif. Destination: Up to the summit of Mount Kopinang!

5_Wokomung-from-Kopinang-July-2007.jpg

During the hike up, we encountered colorful fungi on the forest floor, so I lay down on my belly in the mud to take this photograph.

10_pink-mushroom.jpg

We also came across unbelievably red trees with so-called buttress roots, such as this one. This is an undisturbed, primary rain forest.

16_redButtress-tree.jpg

After a long day of hiking and our first night camping, we paused for a drink and a dip in this ice-cold stream.

23_stream-night-one.jpg

Finally, what we had come for: New frog species! The first frog I found on arriving at the summit of Mount Kopinang was this climbing tree toad, genus Oreophyrnella. These frogs have gripping feet with two toes on each side that help them to climb, much like the feet of chameleons. I watched this pregnant female for an hour, until the chilly rain nearly caused me to go hypothermic. It gets chilly a mile high in the sky, even near the equator!

29_Oreo.JPG

She was pregnant, and we could actually see her eggs through the skin of her swollen belly. We also found several teeny specimens of Colesthetus cf. beebei. These frogs are part of the frog family group that includes the poison-dart frogs of the Americas.

32_Colesthetus1.JPG

I’ll share more on my Guyana adventure soon! Meanwhile, if you’ve got questions about frogs or just love them like I do, let BlogWild know in a comment below!

35_Clark-in-tent.jpg

Photographs copyright Valerie C. Clark

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of the world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Author

Valerie C. Clark
After earning her Ph.D. on the "Chemistry of Amphibian Skin Secretions," Dr. Valerie C. Clark founded the conservation organization i.F.r.o.g.s. (Indigenous Forest Research Organization for Global Sustainability) 501(c)(3). i.F.r.o.g.s. engages the public online to explore Earth’s biodiversity and is active on the ground in Madagascar with local people to survey biodiversity and protect and restore rain forests. Her scientific expeditions have been supported by the National Geographic Society since 2007. Her publications are available for free at frogchemistry.com.