Primordial Pond Life

Tuesday, 3rd February 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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A Chorus of Croaks

frogfrog animationIt's hard to believe that in the next month or so the pond will come to life with a chorus of frog croaks. It's a good time to clear up the surrounding vegetation while things are quiet. I pull up a clump of grass that has grown in a matted sheet, trailing into the water. There's a frog hidden in there and it hops off (not as energetically as the one in my animation) into the pond.

Smooth Newts
female smooth newt

female smooth newtThe smooth newts will be active soon too. Their egg-laying period extends into the summer. They probably time it so that the young newts will have a supply of small tadpoles to eat.

Two females were bedded down in the grassy blanket. They slither off. Both are plump; they look ready to start laying their eggs.

Animated Amphibian

newt animationIt's wonderful to come into contact with such an extraordinary creatures in my own back garden. As a boy I was fascinated by dinosaurs (still am) and, for me, the newts have a prehistoric look; there were newt-like creatures living in the primordial swamps long before the dinosaurs appeared on earth. As present-day reality seems a bit too subtle for my animation skills I decide to draw a prehistoric relative of the newt; Pholiderpeton, an amphibian the size of a crocodile that lived in the coal swamps of what would one day be West Yorkshire some 300 million years ago.

Here's a preliminary skeleton animation: what is that back leg doing?! Hope I can put that right in the final version. A little touch I couldn't resist putting in is a slight flick of the end of the tail as the creature swings it to the left. I like that.

As usual, press the 'refresh' button on your browser to replay the animations. next page

Richard Bell,

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