Why were Kauffeld’s colleagues unable to accept his claim that the coughing frog should be crowned as a new species?
The Coughing Frog
Carl Kauffeld was a world-renowned and well-respected expert in Reptile and Amphibian biology. In 1937, he was doing
a field study in rural Connecticut when he heard an unusual noise. In his notes, he recorded that he heard a number of
coughs from the swamp he was in. He feared he had stumbled upon a pond full of sick frogs. He was able to scoop up
one of the coughing frogs and brought it to his lab to study. As it turned out, his new little friend was not sick, but
instead had a unique new mating call or “croak” that had not been catalogued or heard before.
Since a female of a particular frog species will only mate with a male who emits the correct croak, it was obvious to
Kauffeld that he had discovered a new species of amphibian. He wanted his coughing frog to be recognized as such.
His colleagues counterclaimed that it was not its own species, but instead was a mutated member of either the
Southern or Northern Leopard frog family. Kauffeld had no other evidence to show, so the idea of the little frog getting
his own scientific name was dropped.
Flash forward to today and the coughing frog is back in the news. He has been re-discovered in State Island by a
doctoral student who believes he has the proper evidence to prove the little guy indeed deserves his own genus and