National Geographic : 2004 Mar
of grand adventure that would put me on intimate terms with nature. The exploits of naturalists like William Beebe and Charles Darwin filled my childhood fantasies. Now, I am following in their footsteps. Like them, I face more than a few challenges. Secre tive behavior makes some frogs tough to find. The world's smallest frog, Brachycephalus didactylus, hides in debris on the forest floor. For two days three Brazilian frog experts helped me sift through leaf litter to look for a flash of brown the size of a fingernail. As we were about to give up, we found one-just one-which I pho tographed on the cheek of a colleague (page 2). Xeno hyla truncata, the only frog in the world known to eat fruit, was hard to catch and even harder to catch feeding. I watched one for two days straight, but it ate nothing. I began this trip with a list of frogs I wanted to photo graph, and I'm proud to say I found every one of them. That wasn't easy in a forest that conceals more than 370 known species-and many others awaiting discovery. 0 Dancing a courtship cancan, a Hylodes asper repeatedly kicks right and left (above) to mark his streamside territory and attract mates. The Phasma hyla guttatatadpole (left) wears its mouth like a hat, allowing it to skim food from the surface of mountain streams. Xenohyla truncata (below)-the world's only frog that eats fruit as well as insects-lives near the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. And Scinax arduous (far left) lays its eggs in water caught in cupped bromeliad leaves.