One of my favorite passages in Charles Darwin’s “The Voyage of the Beagle” is the one where Darwin nearly kills a toad with kindness. Since most people haven’t read VotB, I’ll reproduce it for you here, with useful diagrams.
From “The Voyage of the Beagle,” Chapter Five, Bahia Blanca, August 24, 1833.
Amongst the Batrachian reptiles, I found only one little
toad (Phryniscus nigricans), which was most singular from
If we imagine, first, that it had been steeped in
the blackest ink,
and then, when dry,
allowed to crawl over a board,
freshly painted with the brightest vermilion,
so as to colour the soles of its feet
and parts of its stomach
a good idea of its appearance will be gained.
If it had been an unnamed species,
surely it ought to have been called
for it is a fit toad to preach in the ear of Eve.
Instead of being nocturnal in its habits, as other toads are,
and living in damp obscure recesses, it crawls during the heat
of the day about the dry sand-hillocks and arid plains, where
not a single drop of water can be found.
It must necessarily depend on the dew for its moisture; and this probably is
absorbed by the skin, for it is known, that these reptiles possess
great powers of cutaneous absorption.
At Maldonado, I found one in a situation nearly as dry as at Bahia Blanca, and
thinking to give it a great treat,
carried it to a pool of water;
not only was the little animal unable to swim, but
I think without help it would soon have been drowned.
Charles Darwin, this is all very cute, but why are you trying to give great treats to toads.
You are not the Toad Party God.
You are Charles Darwin.
Go home, Charles Darwin.
You are drunk.