Return to Gallery of Private Collections

Wallace's Flying Frog (1995)

Acrylic on illustration board
11" x 8"



Many different kinds of arboreal animals have independently evolved "patagia", or skin membranes with which they can glide from one spot to another. This adaptation has been taken to its highest level in bats. A rather cruder patagium system has developed from the webbed toes of a number of tropical tree frogs. The best known of these is the Wallace's flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus) which ranges from India to Sumatra. The webs of this anuran's toes, which are no longer used for swimming, are exaggerated to the point that they can support glides as broad as forty feet, although a lot of altitude is lost over such a distance. Wallace's flying frog belongs to a large genus that resembles in many ways the unrelated frogs of the American subfamily Phyllomedusinae. Like them, they glue their eggs to leaves overhanging water. The Rhacophorus frogs protect their eggs with a foam nest, and are therefore often referred to as "foam-nest" frogs. Incidental creatures in this piece are a leaf insect (Phyllium sp.), and a long-horned beetle of the family Ceramycidae.