Recently somebody asked me “Why do snakes have two penises?” When I tried to answer, I realized that I didn’t really know. I did know that they only use one at a time, and I had once heard that it was so that they could copulate with a female no matter which side she was on, but that doesn’t really seem to make sense to me any more, especially considering that lizards also have two penises. Leer más.

Disease isn’t the biggest killer of amphibians — that would be habitat loss — but it can be the quickest. And the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in particular has been a huge worry for scientists and anyone else who cares about the world’s frogs, toads, salamanders and newts. The disease spreads through water and skin contact (mating, for instance, can be dangerous), infecting the skin of the animal and disrupting its ability to absorb water. Amphibians rely on that water absorption to control electrolyte levels; when that’s disrupted, it usually leads to death. Some 3,900 species are thought to be in trouble because of the disease, and 165 have probably gone extinct. Leer más.