Grumpy toad

31 03 2021

What’s better than a grumpy cat? (A happy cat, of course, but that’s not the theme of this post.)

A horny toad that looks like an actor straight out of one of those men’s cologne commercials (does anyone really feel the urge to run right out and buy the stuff after viewing those??).

As usual, it took movement right under my nose (err, feet) to notice the spectacularly well camouflaged little guy or gal. But then, unusually, s/he decided to pose for a few minutes so I could get down on my belly and find the focus distance (long lenses do not like to focus very close to their subjects).

According to Wikipedia, “horned lizards (Phrynosoma), also known as horny toads or horntoads, are a genus of North American lizards and the type genus of the family Phrynosomatidae. The common names refer directly to their flattened, rounded bodies and blunt snouts.

“The genus name Phrynosoma means ‘toad-bodied.’ In common with true toads (family Bufonidae), horned lizards tend to move sluggishly, often remain motionless, and rely on their remarkable camouflage to avoid detection by predators. They are adapted to arid or semiarid areas. The spines on the lizard’s back and sides are modified reptile scales, which prevent water loss through the skin, whereas the horns on the head are true horns (i.e. they have a bony core). Of the 22 species of horned lizards, 15 are native to the United States. The largest-bodied and most widely distributed of the U.S. species is the Texas horned lizard.”

About Texas horned lizards, Wikipedia provides this helpful tidbit: “The horned lizard is popularly called a ‘horned toad,’ or ‘horned frog,’ but it is neither a toad nor a frog. The popular names come from the lizard’s rounded body and blunt snout, which give it a decidedly batrachian appearance. Phrynosoma literally means ‘toad-bodied’ and cornutum means ‘horned.’ The lizard’s horns are extensions of its cranium and contain true bone.”

I don’t begin to know what exact type of horned lizard we have here in Disappointment Valley and Spring Creek Basin, but after wandering through some of Google’s fascinating information and images, I noticed that our little friend above isn’t NEARLY as “horned” as many (most?). Maybe it’s young? Though it also wasn’t nearly as tiny as many I’ve seen. Maybe it’s a *she*, indeed, and not as needy of horned accessories. 🙂

Also, and MOST fascinating, is this, from website We Are Navajo :

“When the Navajo Twin Warriors went to kill the Giant, one of the twins, Born for Water, stayed a distance behind. The other twin, Monster Slayer, went to fight the Giant.

“As Monster Slayer went to battle with the giant, the giant swung his club and nearly got him before he could jump. Giant threw his hands down and smashed the ground, missing Monster Slayer as he jumped away. All his efforts to kill Monster Slayer were near death, until Monster Slayer placed the Horned Toad on top of his head. As soon as he turned around to face Ye’ii Tsoh, the giant became frightened. Eventually Monster Slayer killed the giant.

“Navajos are taught to give an offering and prayer whenever they come across a horned toad. Upon giving offering, with water and corn pollen, they place him gently on their hearts moving him in an X motion. This is done for their own protection because the Horned Toad is the grandpa of all Navajos.

“Respect Cheii.”

This is a wonderful traditional Navajo story, Ma’ii and Cousin Horned Toad.

From the story: “Whenever we come upon a horned toad, we gently place it over our heart and greet it. ‘Ya ateeh shi che'(‘Hello, my grandfather’). We believe it gives strength of heart and mind. We never harm our grandfather.”

There are many fascinating things to learn about horned lizards!



6 responses

31 03 2021

I love Horned Toads.

31 03 2021

This is so good! Thanks for the Navajo story.

31 03 2021
Karen Schmiede

Thanks for the info on the toads.

31 03 2021

Wonderful story ! Glad you didn’t step on him / her 🙂

31 03 2021
Sue E. Story

Ahhh…I love those guys…or gals! His steely stare reminds me of that squinty look gunslingers have in the movies when they square off in the dusty streets . 😊 This one is a cutie, TJ!

31 03 2021

THANKS for sharing the traditional Navajo story and lesson of respect.
Sage advice.

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