So. (Notice how almost every narrative and interview nowadays, even on the radio, starts with “so?” Drives me nuts.)
So we were flying along this afternoon on about mile 400 for the day, staring out our respective sides of the plane, looking 500 feet down at a trackless expanse of snowy taiga forest northeast of Whati, Northwest Territories. Dean, my longtime biologist passenger and partner in many a long day of wildlife-survey flying over the past 26 years, said over the intercom, “Dave, you know frogs are not reptiles.”
“Yeah, I know that. Frogs are amphibians.”
“Well, in your blog last week you wrote that they were reptiles.”
“What? I did?”
Yep, I did. Sorry people, frogs are amphibians. I wrote that the amazing cryogenic-wizard wood frogs, Rana sylvatica, were the world’s northernmost reptiles, and of course they are not reptiles, they are amphibians.
Which of course begs the question, what is the world’s northernmost reptile? Quick search-engine visit… drum roll. And the winner is… The viviparous lizard of Europe and Asia. But how about on this side of the pond? In North America the red-sided garter snake might be a candidate, living in the very southern reaches of the NWT, near Fort Smith, 200 miles straight south of the Hoarfrost River. Encyclopedia Britannica, on the other hand, opines that no reptiles occur north of 60 degrees north latitude, in North America. I know that is wrong, since I have talked to people (again on long boring wildlife-survey transect flights; it’s amazing what topics can come up) who have seen our north-of-sixty garter snakes.
So anyway. There you have it. Correction published. As we finished up for the day and taxied in from the Whati airport’s snow-packed airstrip, Dean said, “Well guys, not very many moose today, pretty surprising really. Oh and Dave — moose are mammals.”
Bonus frog poem, which was a lot funnier after two or three beers back in college days, delivered by my copain Robert Savignac in a thick Quebecois patois, a la William Henry Drummond, wit’ de ac-cent on de wrong syl-la-ble:
What a won’erful bird de frog are
When he sit, he stan’ almos’
When he stan’, he fly almos’
He ain’t got no sense hardlee
He ain’t got no tail hardlee ee-der
When he sit, he sit on what he ain’ got,