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Faceless toad found hopping in forest, experts have a theory

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, March 8, 2018, 6:37 PM - A faceless toad that was found hopping around a state forest in Connecticut is making headlines once again after a researcher uploaded newly-found footage to Twitter.

Jill Fleming, a herpetologist and student of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst discovered the adult American toad in 2016. It had a perfectly healthy body and legs, but was missing its eyes, nose, jaw and tongue.

According to National Geographic, the toad kept hopping onto researchers’ feet while they studied the area.

“Still puzzled by this find from 2016!” Fleming said on Twitter last month.

“An apparently “faceless” toad. Kept hopping into things. Had a small mouth hole- maybe esphogus/glottis (no maxilla or mandible, I think)? It was early spring so I think it must have come out of brumation like this. Any thoughts herp Twitter?”

Fleming suspects the toad suffered an "extensive injury" from a natural predator during hibernation.

"For whatever reason, the predator did not finish the job and the toad was able to become active again on that early spring day—amphibians are incredibly resilient,” she told National Geographic.

Some herpetologists on Twitter suggested the deformation could be due to some sort of parasitism, but Fleming suspects otherwise.

 “I believe the injury happened during hibernation because it seemed to have healed over, which I don't think it would have the opportunity to have done outside the toad's hibernacula,” she added.

Researchers say the find is rare -- although toads do sometimes emerge from hibernation missing limbs.

Unfortunately, experts don't believe the faceless toad survived for long in the wild. Fleming said it wouldn't have been able to eat and its condition would have made it an easy target for predators.

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