A Measured Celebration of the Jumping Frog

Mark Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” became the jumping off point, more than a century after the story was written, for a scientific study of frog-jumping performance:

Chasing maximal performance: a cautionary tale from the celebrated jumping frogs of Calaveras County,” Henry C. Astley, E.M. Abbott, E. Azizi, R.L. Marsh and Thomas J. Roberts, Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 216, November 1, 2013, pp. 3947-3953. The authors, at Brown University, Northeastern University, and Georgia Institute of Technology, report:

“We used a unique opportunity provided by a frog jumping contest to evaluate the validity of existing laboratory estimates of maximum jumping performance in bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). We recorded video of 3124 bullfrog jumps over the course of the 4-day contest at the Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee, and determined jump distance from these images and a calibration of the jump arena. Frogs were divided into two groups: ‘rental’ frogs collected by fair organizers and jumped by the general public, and frogs collected and jumped by experienced, ‘professional’ teams. A total of 58% of recorded jumps surpassed the maximum jump distance in the literature (1.295 m), and the longest jump was 2.2 m. Compared with rental frogs, professionally jumped frogs jumped farther, and the distribution of jump distances for this group was skewed towards long jumps.”

The researchers provide this video of the competition (below), and Brown University proudly provides a press release.


BONUS: Science Daily tells of the people and the frogs.

BONUS: A landmark in neuroscience: “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain

BONUS: Further Thomas J. Brownian research on frogs and other biological entities and phenomena