Jan. 1: Frogs and ‘possums and scorpions, oh my!

We had an amazing New Year’s Eve present at the Estación Biologica Monteverde on our night walk in the form of multiple species of frog and even a tree scorpion. Everyone was very excited by the wildlife sightings, especially those of us who had also gone on a hike the previous night and struck out with finding any “herps,” or reptiles and amphibians. We did, however, catch a glimpse of a Mexican mouse opossum (Marmosa mexicana), which was a wonderful surprise. It was peering out at us from a thick patch of shrubs with its prehensile tail wrapped around a branch, looking much like a bandit wearing a black eye mask. At one point we turned off all of our flashlights and headlamps while standing in a streambed. The darkness was so absolute as to take on an almost velveteen feel, as though it were a physical presence in and of itself. To be honest, I felt rather vulnerable standing there completely blind to my surroundings. It was a stark reminder that I am just a visitor in this environment that many species call home. Monteverde in particular feels otherworldly, as though we’re on a mountaintop island surrounded by a sea of dense clouds. It is equal parts eerie and exhilarating. There is so much more to explore in this beautiful country and I can’t wait to see what we’ll discover next!

-Jessica Joganic, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Wagner shows off the yellow leg spots that are characteristic of the brilliant forest frog (Lithobates warszewitschii)
The view from the winding mountain road on our way to Monteverde with the Gulf of Nicoya in the background and the extremely low cloud base characteristic of cloud forests.
Leaf analysis with Dr. Sybil Gotsch in the Monteverde lab

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