SquaMates Ep. 12: So Long, and Tanks for all our Frogs

A totally serious herpetological podcast

SquaMates Ep. 12: So Long, and Tanks for all our Frogs

Here it is, Episode 12! In this episode, the Mates, Mark D. Scherz, Gabriel Ugueto, and Ethan Kocak, have some hot takes on wasp taxonomy (wtf?) and lizard functional groups!

In this twelfth episode, we talk sailing frogs, how fast you have to walk to find the most snakes, lizard skulls, and flying geckos, and have a somewhat impassioned discussion of wasp taxonomy and a reductionist approach to lizard functional grouping! Our #HERper is Dr. Meg Stewart, and our main discussion is about squamate cognition!

Episode notes sometimes get clipped on your device or by your podcast provider; for full (extensive) notes (and references), go to http://www.squamatespod.com

Works in Froggress

Rakotoarison, A., Scherz, M.D., Bletz, M.C., Razafindraibe, J.H., Glaw, F., Vences, M. (2019) Description of the lucky Cophyla (Microhylidae, Cophylinae), a new arboreal frog from Marojejy National Park in north-eastern Madagascar. Zootaxa, 4651(2):271–288. 10.11646/zootaxa.4651.2.4

The British cover of Believe it or Snot, the third book in the Does it Fart? trilogy

Breaking Newts

Glaw, F., Hawlitschek, O., Glaw, K. & Vences, M. (2019) Integrative evidence confirms new endemic island frogs and transmarine dispersal of amphibians between Madagascar and Mayotte (Comoros archipelago). The Science of Nature, 106, 19. 10.1007/s00114-019-1618-9Mark’s blog post

Meierotto, S., Sharkey, M.J., Janzen, D.H., Hallwachs, W., Hebert, P.D.N., Chapman, E.G. & Smith, M.A. (2019) A revolutionary protocol to describe understudied hyperdiverse taxa and overcome the taxonomic impediment. Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift, 66, 119–145. 10.3897/dez.66.34683

Mark fucked up: he says in the episode that Alex Hall (@allopatry) said funding would be the taxonomic revolution, but it was actually said by Derek Hennen (@derekhennen)!

Lardner, B., Yackel Adams, A. A., Savidge, J. A. & Reed, R. N. (in press) Optimizing walking pace to maximize snake detection rate: A visual encounter survey Experiment. Herpetologica. 10.1655/Herpetologica-D-18-00020.1

Grismer, L.L., Wood, P.L.J., Grismer, J.L., Quah, E.S.H., Thy, N., Phimmachak, S., Sivongxay, N., Seateun, S., Stuart, B.L., Siler, C.B., Mulcahy, D.G., Anamza, T. & Brown, R.M. (2019) Geographic structure of genetic variation in the Parachute Gecko Ptychozoon lionotum Annandale, 1905 across Indochina and Sundaland with descriptions of three new species. Zootaxa, 4638, 151–198. 10.11646/zootaxa.4638.2.1

Villa, A. & Delfino, M. (in press) A comparative atlas of the skull osteology of European lizards (Reptilia: Squamata). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society,  10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz035

Feiner, N. & Wood, N.J. (2019) Lizards possess the most complete tetrapod Hox gene repertoire despite pervasive structural changes in Hox clusters. Evolution & Development, 21, e12300. 10.1111/ede.12300

Vidan, E., Novosolov, M., Bauer, A.M., Herrera, F.C., Chirio, L., de Campos Nogueira, C., Doan, T.M., Lewin, A., Meirte, D., Nagy, Z.T., Pincheira-Donoso, D., Tallowin, O.J.S., Torres Carvajal, O., Uetz, P., Wagner, P., Wang, Y., Belmaker, J. & Meiri, S. (in press) The global biogeography of lizard functional groups. Journal of Biogeography,  10.1111/jbi.13667

This paper is based heavily on Meiri (2018) Global Ecology and Biogeography 27:1168 10.1111/geb.12773


Dr. Margaret ‘Meg’ Dickerson

Obituary on Legacy.com

ASIH Stewart Award

Publications (via ResearchGate)

Main Discussion:

Szabo, B., Noble, D.W.A., Byrne, R.W., Tait, D.S. & Whiting, M.J. (2019) Precocial juvenile lizards show adult level learning and behavioural flexibility. Animal Behaviour, 154, 75–84. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.06.003

Matsubara, S., Deeming, D.C. & Wilkinson, A. (2017) Cold-blooded cognition: new directions in reptile cognition. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 16, 126–130. 10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.06.006

Wilkinson, A. & Huber, L. (2014) Cold-Blooded Cognition: Reptilian Cognitive Abilities in Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T. K. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. pp. 129–143. URL


Common Descent Podcast: PodBeanApple Podcasts@CommDescentPC

Follow the show and the hosts on social media!

SquaMates: website • twitter • instagram • facebook

Mark D. Scherz: website • twitter • instagram • tumblr • facebook • researchgate

Gabriel Ugueto: website • twitter • instagram • facebook • artwork prints

Ethan Kocak: website • twitter • tumblr • facebook

5 Responses

  1. llewely says:

    Franz Der Waal’s book Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? communicates very well how our preconceptions about animals can mar the design and interpretation of experiments on their cognition, and how animal cognition can be a complex, multifaceted thing even in seemingly simple animals, often underestimated in the past (less so in the present). He also gives great examples of how failure to consider an animal’s place in its natural environment, or failure to consider which of its senses it relies on most can result in an animal appearing to “fail” a cognitive test due to poor experiment design. And it’s very relevant to the podcast topic.

    But, a caveat: Der Waal is a primatologist, and thus relies heavily on examples from his field, and then generalizes to argue that past preconceptions of other (non-primate) animals have led to misdesign and misinterpretation of experiments on their cognition, and generally to underestimation of their cognition. He does back up his generalizations with some examples from a broader variety of animals – ranging from spiders and (non-tetrapod) fish to birds and cephs, and I think there’s one frog example, but, unfortunately, I don’t recall any squamate examples.

    The above isn’t meant to be criticism per se; there was probably no other practical way to write such a book, and the theme that animal cognition can be a complex, multifaceted thing even in seemingly simple animals comes across very well.

  2. llewelly says:

    Also relevant to the topic of cognition in herps, there’s an episode of the podcast croclog which discusses training of crocodilians.


    (Most other episodes of croclog also contain at least some discussion of how crocodilians think, but it’s mixed in with other stuff, and usually related to incidents of crocodilian-vs-human conflict)

  3. Nesslig 20 says:

    55:24-55:33 They are not flying, they are falling with style.

  4. Nesslig 20 says:

    1:07:45 They likely excluded snakes since including them would make the number of species within their group of interest some 7 times larger.

    • SquaMatesThemselves says:

      No, it would only increase it by 50% again. We think they excluded them due to a preconception that this is somehow biologically justified.

      It isn’t.

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