MOSS BLUFF, La. (AP) — Fifth-grader A.J. Williams of Moss Bluff already has a scientific publication to his credit.
The 126-word-long geographic distribution note in "Herpetology Review" reports that the Rio Grande chirping frog, native to Mexico and far south Texas, has been found in the wild in A.J.'s home town.
The male frog they caught was "from a chorus calling from a wooded area of dense thicket and briar," according to the note.
Moss Bluff is way out of the tiny amphibian's usual territory. The frogs lay their eggs in damp soil, and the first frogs in the group probably hatched from eggs that arrived in potted plants, Williams said. He and A.J. caught one male "from a chorus calling from a wooded area of dense thicket and briar," said the report in the current issue of Herpetology Review.
"My favorite part was actually finding the frog. It's sweat, dirt, blood and tears that we put into this," A.J. told the American Press (http://bit.ly/QNDncK). "The blood part comes from tripping on stuff in the woods."
A.J. is the son of Avery Williams, a biology professor at Louisiana State University in Eunice, and helped his father's year-long search for the half-inch frog in Moss Bluff. The U.S. Geology Survey says it also has been found in Caddo, East Baton Rouge and Lafayette parishes, and in various parts of Texas, including the Houston and San Antonio areas.
Williams said he didn't believe his friend Kirk Manuel's original report in 2010.
"He called me up and he told me he thought he heard this Rio Grande chirping frog in the back of his property. I was like, 'No, no, no — you're wrong because that frog doesn't occur anywhere around here,'" Avery said.
He said he told Manuel to keep listening to tapes of the real frog. The frog's call sounds rather like a rubber shoe-sole on a basketball court, but each chirp is less than a second long, with single chirps and groups of two to four chirps spaced several seconds apart.
After a year, he agreed to check for himself. It took him less than 30 seconds to realize his friend was right.
It took nearly another year to find a male frog and photograph it for identification.
The report lists both Williamses and Manuel as the people who found the frog verified by Jeff Boundy, a herpetologist at the LSU Museum of Natural Science.
It was great to have his son as an assistant frog-hunter, Williams said.
"I always thought it was a fun, goofy thing to do. I didn't think I would have anyone else who would be interested in doing something like this. Most kids his age are interested in video games or sports or something like that, but he's interested in science," Williams said.
A.J. said, "My poppa is a professor and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. And I thought it would be neat to find a frog!"
Species fact sheet: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=64
Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com