Life without a face is a hard life for a toad—survival would be nearly impossible without eyes, a nose or much of a mouth. That’s why it was so surprising when Jill Fleming, a herpetologist at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found one.
When Fleming was out in a Connecticut forest on a research trip, she noticed the animal hopping around. The animal had little more than a stump for a head and a small hole for a mouth. It was also bumping into things because the eyeless toad was completely blind.
The animal was an adult American toad, National Geographic reported. Animals born with such life-threatening deformities don’t often live to adulthood, so it’s unlikely that the toad had been born that way.
The two other possibilities for its condition are pretty gross.
Fleming told National Geographic that the likeliest possibility is that a predator came and started eating the toad while it was hibernating. A rat, snake or mink could have started chewing on the frozen animal’s face but left before finishing its meal. When the toad woke up from its nap, it had to make do without a face.
Fleming took a picture and a video and tweeted them more than a year after the incident, and other biologists on Twitter weighed in.
Found the video. pic.twitter.com/cZJhDWEzOm— Jill Fleming (@salamander_jill) February 27, 2018
The second possibility: Some suggested that toadflies might have eaten away at the toad’s face. Toadflies, or Lucilia bufonivora, are parasitic flies that lay their eggs in toad nostrils. As the eggs grow and develop into larvae, they expand their host’s nostrils and can even destroy the animal’s entire face. Scroll down for the horror.
Amphibians are hardy, but it's still surprising that this animal lived long enough for its injury to heal. However, Fleming told National Geographic that she doesn’t think the toad lived much longer after she took the video. Having no jaw, tongue, nose or eyes makes toad life nearly impossible to live.