"The pumpkin toadlet, which is a frog but not a toad, is so terrible at landing its jumps that its sheer incompetence has become a subject of scientific inquiry." Sabrina Imbler reports for Defector:
defector.com/why-is-this-tiny-
web.archive.org/web/2022061612

This passage elevates the whole thing to high comedy:

> Finding bug-sized frogs in Brazil is an arduous task. Even though a pumpkin toadlet is as bright as a Cheeto, the leaf litter teems with neon fungi and other orange-colored life. “It is extremely hard to catch underneath the leaf litter,” [grad student André] Confetti said. “Especially for me, because I’m colorblind.”

🐘

> When Essner saw the footage, he burst out laughing. Then he immediately became consumed by the problem at hand. The toadlets were so far from the belly-flopping tailed frogs on the frog family tree, meaning the problem was not ancestral. So why couldn’t they land a single jump? “It wasn’t a ‘Eureka’ moment,” Essner said. “It was a, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ moment.”

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Since Ed Yong's been mostly on the COVID beat, Sabrina Imbler has quickly become one of my must-read science reporters—see their earlier pun-filled piece about gluttonous moray eels nytimes.com/2021/06/22/science

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