Advent calendar

Door 19: Ghosts of the Museum – The Unfortunate Toad


It’s the final extract from the always entertaining Magazine of Natural History! This one’s from 1839, and concerns a somewhat brutal experiment on an unfortunate toad….Toad text

ON THE 10th of September, 1836, I had a living toad put into the ground at a depth of three feet from the surface, in a bed of flinty gravel; a flower-pot reversed was placed over it, to prevent the toad from being crushed by the pressure of the earth above. The hole was then filled up and the surface cropped, the spot selected being a garden.

The pit was reopened on the 29th of last August, after having been closed for three years all but ten days; and the toad was found alive, and used all its exertions to crawl away as soon as the flower-pot was removed. It was not a full-grown animal when taken, neither did it appear to have increased in size during its incarceration, its legs and thighs indeed were very slender, compared with the limbs of toads generally; but this difference probably arose from the disuse of those limbs during confinement.

I have very good reason to think that the animal would have survived after its long imprisonment, had it not been most injudiciously placed in the sun for three days, in a southern aspect, after it was taken out of the ground, for the purpose of gratifying the curiosity of any one who might wish to see it. John Brown, Stanway, September 12 1839. [Magazine of Natural History, New Series, vol 3 (1839), p518]

Surprised toad sm

Competition update

With just a few points still up for grabs, the scores remain close…Wednesday’s window was identified by Clark Fenton as Lundy Island, earning him another point, while Sue Greig correctly named yesterday’s as the lovely Millook Haven. So she remains in the lead with 6 points – Clark is close behind with 4!

4 thoughts on “Door 19: Ghosts of the Museum – The Unfortunate Toad

  1. Pingback: Door 24: We wish you a Merry (Mary Anning) Christmas | Geological Society of London blog

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