Mataura Ensign, Volume 11, Issue 781, 15 June 1888, Page 6
It is pretty generally conceded nowadays tbat the belief concerning the ability of toade and frogs to live for years, perhaps for centuries, shut up in, a place where air cannot reach them, ' and where they can obtain no food, is more or less delusive. Still, there are many who entertain it, and numerous instances, apparently well authenticated, have been given to the public, in which this fiction in zoology has been reiterated with wonderful particularity,. the alleged discoverers and the narrators alike -manfesting an abiding faith in the ability of the toad to lie dormant for an indefinite number of years, embedded in the solid rock. , A EEMAEKABLE CASE. A notable case which csme before the French Academy of Sciences in 1852 is recorded, in which that body was occupied during one of its sittings with a grave question of what in homely language may be called a " toad in a hole." In digging a well at Blois during the preceding year, some workmen threw up from about a yard beneath the surface a large flint, weigbiug about 141b5., and, striking.it a blow with a pickaxe, it split in two, and there was discovered, snugly ensconced in the very centre, a large toad. The toad seemed for a moment greatly astonished, but jumped out and rather rapidly crawled away. He was seized and replaced in the hole, where he settled himself down very quietly. The stone and toad, just as they were, were sent to the Society of Sciences at Blois, and became immediately the subject of curious interest. It was found that if the top of the stone were cautiously removed in a dark place the creature did not move ; but if the removal were effected in the light he immediately got out and ran away. If he were placed on the edge of the flint he would crawl info his hole and fix himself comfortably in it. He gathered his legs beneath his body, and it- was observed that he took especial care of one of his feet which had been slightly hurt in his removal. The hole was not a bit larger than the i body, except a little where the back ! was. Not the slightest appearance of j any communication between the centre and the outside of the stone could be discovered, and the committee, consisting of three eminent naturalists, one of whom had made toads his study for years, mada no secret of their belief that the toad had been in that stone for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years : and how he could have lived without air, food or water, or movement, they made no effort to explain. They accordingly contented themselves that this should be considered another authentic ease to be added to the few hundreds already existing of toads being found alive embedded in stone, leaving it to some future savant to explain what then appeared the wonderful miracle by which Nature keeps them alive so long in such places. But the distinguished M. Majendie suggested that it was just possible that an attempt was being made to hoax the Academy by making it believe that the toad had been found, in the hole, ; whereas it might only have been put in by the mischievous workman after the stone was broken. Terrified at the idea of becoming the laughingstock of the public, the Academy declined to take any formal resolution , about the toad, but thanked the ■ committee for its very interesting communication, and so the matter - dropped. INTEEESTING EXPEEIMENTS. •It has been proved by a series oi ' experiments, going back over a century, that when deprived of air toads must speedily perish; but that they will survive for many months without food.
A French naturalist shut up three toajia in , close boxes for X8 months. Atitheehdof the time one was dead and t£> remaining two in a dying state. Another buried a toad in a vessel c yered with a slate only, a foot deep in the ground. At the end of a fortnight the creature seemed as plump as before its incarceration. He then enclosed the same toad in an airtight vessel and buried ir. In a week it was dead and very much decomposed. But th© moat decisive experiment was carried out by Dr Buckland, the father of the late- Prank Buckland, who placed twelve toads separately in twelve holes cut in blocks of soft limestone, and aleo a number of toads; I in twelve blocks of hard, flinty sand stone. Each of the 24 cells wwars r covered with a plate of glass, over which a slate was placed, and each cover firmly cemented to its own stone. The imprisoned toads, thus secured, were buried three feet deep on the 26th of November, 1825. ,' "At", .the same time four toads were deposited in holes cut in the heart of an apple tree, the opening being securely plugged up. Four others were also placed in a plaster of Paris bowl and completely covered with a luting. On the l'Ofch of December the 32 reptiles were examined. Eirery toad in the hard stones, All in the tree, two in the plaster, and all the small ones in the limestone were dead. The remaining two in the plaster were dying, but several in the pervious stones were in tolerable health, and of these two were actually fatter than when placed in the holes. It is thought that some, water had filtered through the more porous stone, and insects had certainly ''■ penetrated one cell. The surviving toads were placed in their respective ( holes for another year, and at the end ' of that time all were dead. Yet there are thousands of people who firmly ' believe that frogs and toads can exist for ages without nourishment in the J heart of a tree or in rocks that have ! endured for ages. ]