Eddie Marsh was a very impatient 14 year old boy living in Mclean County, Illnois. He was impatient because it was cold and he was eager to get his coal fire burning on one particular day in 1886. So he poked at the coals, trying to stoke the fire when he rashly poked a little too hard and some pieces flew out. He was about to toss a piece back into the fire when he took a second look. In his hand was a perfectly preserved tree frog (hyla).
Biologist R. W. Shufeldt said:
"I at once recognised it as a species of hyla, though I am unable to say which one. It apparently agrees in all it's external characteristics with a specimen I have of a hyla veriscolor... though it is rather smaller... It is completely mummified, and in a wonderful state of preservation, being of a dark, snuff-brown color, somewhat shrunken. I am aware that these tree frogs very often climb into some of the most unheard of places; but it struck me that it would be interesting to have some tell us if they ever heard of a hyla finding its way to the vault of a coal mine 541 feet under ground and climbing into the solid coal bed after getting there."
Not so strange you might think. Probably some sort of fossil or just plain coincidence. So how do we explain the next story from Maryland in 1906?
CUMBERLAND, Md., Dec. 23. -- John Savage, a miner in the Enterprise mine, at Buck Hill, a suburb of Lonaconing, this county, was very much astonished yesterday, he says, when, in breaking a lump of coal, a live frog jumped out of it and hopped around his feet. NY Times
Or several further stories from the UK, Sweden, France, Germany and many more places.
What are we to make of frogs obsession with coal and stone? Hmm... what do you think?
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