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Desert Rain Frog-People: The Tiny African Coastal Dwellers

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When you think of the Namib, images of orange sand stretching to the horizon may come to mind. The coastal desert is the third region and receives only about 13 millimeters of rain annually, but the air is at 100% relative humidity almost all the time. The temperature stays between 10 and 16 degrees Celsius year-round, day and night! That’s where God decided to put us frog-people, and we are genuinely grateful for our comfortable habitat.

Desert rain frog-folk are nocturnal, so we dig burrows during the day on the shore between the ocean and the dunes. We emerge at night to socialize in clusters, explore the sandy mounds, and find our food. We have a flat face with exceptionally large, protruding eyes and a tiny snout. At about four to six centimeters in length, we are small compared with many other frog-people. We make a high-pitched, squeaky sound that you would expect from a baby’s toy.

Each of our characteristics is of distinct benefit to our unique lifestyle. Our yellowish-brown topcoat serves as perfect camouflage. The thick and fleshy webbing on our feet helps to provide traction as we walk across the sand. Our legs are too short for hopping but strong enough to burrow.

But unlike other species, we desert rain frog-people do not need open water to breed. After a female meets her beau, she goes underground as usual and lays anywhere from 12 to 40 eggs in the burrow. They remain there until the newborns emerge as miniature adults. There is no aquatic larva stage, so the hatchlings do not depend on having a parent around. They simply start exploring their surroundings, searching for sustenance, and enjoying life. This reproductive mode is called direct development.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists desert rain frog-people as a vulnerable species that is extremely sensitive to environmental change and requires very specific conditions to survive. We play a significant role in global ecosystems. I pray that people everywhere will keep in mind the importance of a balanced biome and make mindful choices considering the effects on others.

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