I would like a biologically sound example to replace the boiled frog
urban legend. (See info below from a Google answer to the question of
whether the often-repeated story is a legend...and it is.)
I'm looking for a biologically sound example of an animal (not a human
being) which doesn't have the capacity to observe some type of gradual
change ? which leaves the animal in danger because by the time it
observes the change because it has become extreme, it is too late to
avoid the danger.
I want to use the biologically sound example in the same way that the
urban legend is used...to point to cases of slow degradation in the
social and physical environments of human beings which we do not
notice until they become extreme (if then).
From the Google answer:
The urban legend is that if you place a frog in cool water and
gradually turn up the heat, the frog will not attempt to jump out of
the pot and will appear as if it is feeling no pain and will gradually
boil to death. The story is that being that the frog is cold blooded,
it's body adjusts to it's surrounding environment and it will simply
"allow" itself to boil to death. It is often used as a metaphor to
say that gradual change can be imperceptible, when
compared to a major change, or just throwing the frog into boiling
"According to Dr. George R. Zug, curator of reptiles and amphibians,
the National Museum of Natural History, 'Well that's, may I say,
bull****. If a frog had a means of getting out, it certainly would get
out. And I cannot imagine that anything dropped in boiling water would
not be scalded and die from the injuries.'"
"Professor Doug Melton, Harvard University Biology Department, says,
'If you put a frog in boiling water, it won't jump out. It will die.
If you put it in cold water, it will jump before it gets hot -- they
don't sit still for you.'"
Next Time, What Say We Boil a Consultant
"Vic's (Dr. Victor Hutchison of the University of Oklahoma) answer was
as follows: 'The legend is entirely incorrect! The `critical thermal
maxima' of many species of frogs have been determined by several
investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is
submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per
minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the
frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape
the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to
jump out, it will do so." Naturally, if the frog were not allowed to
escape it would eventually begin to show signs of heat stress,
muscular spasms, heat rigor, and death.'"
THE LEGEND OF THE BOILING FROG IS JUST A LEGEND
University of Georgia
Request for Question Clarification by
25 Aug 2006 13:55 PDT
When I was younger I remember seeing a caught jellyfish from the sea,
and upon closer examination I noticed something about the creature's
design which I thought was incredible. The jellyfish, had a number of
small "compartments" where it stored small live fish, premusedly to
feed on at a later time. The captive fish were alive, as the cell
(which was transparent like it's captor) they were enclosed in
contained sea water so they could breathe. I haven't been able to find
more information about this jellyfish, so I don't know exactly how it
catches and consumes its prey, but I think this example meets your
criteria. The captive fish "doesn't have the capacity to observe some
type of gradual change" --the gradual change being that it's oxygen is
running out, resulting in the fact that the jellyfish will inevitably
feast on it (assumedly before it suffocates), by which time it will be
too late to avoid the danger.
I will try to learn more about this jelly, and get back to you.
Let me know your thoughts on this.
Request for Question Clarification by
25 Aug 2006 14:03 PDT
There are a number of dangerous changes that can't be generally
observed by living organisms, whether frogs, humans, or anything else.
A gradual increase in carbon monoxide concentrations won't be noticed,
and will lead to death (as it often does). Similarly, increasing
radiation won't be detected, even at dangerous levels. Numerous
other toxic substances can have the same unobservable impacts, as can
Are these sorts of examples on target for you, or am I missing the boat...?