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Cane toad

The meaning of «cane toad»

The cane toad (Rhinella marina), also known as the giant neotropical toad or marine toad, is a large, terrestrial true toad native to South and mainland Central America, but which has been introduced to various islands throughout Oceania and the Caribbean, as well as Northern Australia. It is a member of the genus Rhinella, which includes many true toad species found throughout Central and South America, but it was formerly assigned to the genus Bufo.

The cane toad is an old species. A fossil toad (specimen UCMP 41159) from the La Venta fauna of the late Miocene of Colombia is indistinguishable from modern cane toads from northern South America. It was discovered in a floodplain deposit, which suggests the R. marina habitat preferences have long been for open areas. The cane toad is a prolific breeder; females lay single-clump spawns with thousands of eggs. Its reproductive success is partly because of opportunistic feeding: it has a diet, unusual among anurans, of both dead and living matter. Adults average 10–15 cm (4–6 in) in length; the largest recorded specimen had a snout-vent length of 24 cm (9.4 in).

The cane toad has poison glands, and the tadpoles are highly toxic to most animals if ingested. Its toxic skin can kill many animals, both wild and domesticated, and cane toads are particularly dangerous to dogs. Because of its voracious appetite, the cane toad has been introduced to many regions of the Pacific and the Caribbean islands as a method of agricultural pest control. The common name of the species is derived from its use against the cane beetle (Dermolepida albohirtum), which damages sugar cane. The cane toad is now considered a pest and an invasive species in many of its introduced regions. The 1988 film Cane Toads: An Unnatural History documented the trials and tribulations of the introduction of cane toads in Australia.

Historically, the cane toads were used to eradicate pests from sugarcane, giving rise to their common name. The cane toad has many other common names, including "giant toad" and "marine toad"; the former refers to its size, and the latter to the binomial name, R. marina. It was one of many species described by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae (1758).[5] Linnaeus based the specific epithet marina on an illustration by Dutch zoologist Albertus Seba, who mistakenly believed the cane toad to inhabit both terrestrial and marine environments.[6] Other common names include "giant neotropical toad",[7] "Dominican toad",[8] "giant marine toad",[9] and "South American cane toad".[10] In Trinidadian English, they are commonly called crapaud, the French word for toad.[11]

The genus Rhinella is considered to constitute a distinct genus of its own, thus changing the scientific name of the cane toad. In this case, the specific name marinus (masculine) changes to marina (feminine) to conform with the rules of gender agreement as set out by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, changing the binomial name from Bufo marinus to Rhinella marina; the binomial Rhinella marinus was subsequently introduced as a synonym through misspelling by Pramuk, Robertson, Sites, and Noonan (2008).[2][3] Though controversial (with many traditional herpetologists still using Bufo marinus) the binomial Rhinella marina is gaining in acceptance with such bodies as the IUCN,[1] Encyclopaedia of Life,[12] Amphibian Species of the World [2] and increasing numbers of scientific publications adopting its usage.

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