In Richard Matheson’s 1954 science-fiction novel “I Am Legend,” the main character — a widower named Robert Neville — finds himself the last human alive in a world populated with monsters. Much of the book deals with his attempts to survive.
However, not a small portion of the story mentions his almost invincible loneliness. Neville finds himself consumed with romantic longing, yet utterly without hope of finding a mate.
Perhaps a certain frog knows exactly how that fictional character felt. According to Business Insider, a Sehuencas water frog named Romeo has led a decidedly lonely decade in a Bolivian aquarium, the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny.
See, Romeo was the only example of his species that scientists knew about. In fact, they feared he might be the last one in the world.
Then exploring biologists found something amazing. While looking around a jungle waterfall, they found another Sehuencas water frog — and she was female.
The New York Times reported that scientists initially feared that the new amphibian (which they dubbed Juliet) might carry a fungal disease. If she had, she might have spread it to Romeo, making for a rather unfortunate first date.
They needn’t have worried: The frog was as clean as the proverbial whistle.
What’s more, the pair of web-footed critters took to each other (ahem) swimmingly. After an initial meeting on March 1, they joined each other in the same tank.
Scientists soon noticed something interesting: Romeo began making a distinctive vocalization, a croak that he hadn’t issued in some two years.
Global Wildlife Conservation issued a press release saying, “Shortly after Romeo and Juliet were moved into Romeo’s aquarium, Romeo called for the first time since the end of 2017 — a sign that he is ready and eager to breed. But he hasn’t quite yet figured out the exact right position for amplexus — the mating position for frogs where the male grasps the female and holds on until he can fertilize her eggs as she lays them.”
The pair haven’t consummated their relationship yet, but museum staff say it can’t happen soon enough.
“When the fate of an entire species is on the line, there’s really no time for taking it slow before committing to moving in together,” Teresa Camacho Badani said. Badani is the museum’s chief of herpetology.
“Romeo has been really sweet to Juliet, following her around the aquarium and sacrificing his worm meals for her. After he’s been alone for so long, it’s wonderful to see him with a mate finally.”
Fortunately, the future of this particular kind of frog doesn’t rest on these two alone. It turns out that Juliet wasn’t the only Sehuencas water frog that biologists found.
They also discovered two more male-and-female pairs. With a little luck, this endangered amphibian might flourish once again.
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