back to article Darwin alarmed by six-legged mutant cane toad

Anyone who doubts that the cane toad will ultimately gain supremacy over Australia is directed to the Northern Territory News, which has a chilling story on a hexaped mutant Bufo marinus captured south of Darwin. Bufo marinus (aka Cane Toad) - a regular four-legged version Bufo marinus (aka cane toad) - with a paltry four …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Darwin alarmed?

    Surely he'd just see it as a confirmation of his theory of evolution!

    1. edge_e

      Re: Darwin alarmed?

      I came to say the same thing.

      Mutations happen, some give an advantage and get bred into the population.

      Others provide no benefit or are actually a hindrance and only appear occasionally.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Darwin alarmed?

        @edge_e, may I add: Others provide no benefit and get bred into the population anyway. (That may solely be true for mankind though)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Darwin alarmed?

        As a hint, the additional legs are usually not genetic. So this has nothing to do with evolution. Most are caused by parasites interfering with development. Though this is not the case with other animals, just one that effects amphibians quite a lot.

        1. Zombie Womble

          Re: Darwin alarmed?

          Creationists awakened would be more likely.

          Major British science site leads with article "Darwin alarmed?" over God's decision to create a six legged toad in utter violation of the Darwinsitic religion.

          Grab you Bibles and praise the lord.

          "Oh toady lord!"

          Hang on, that can't be right.

          "Oh lord of the toads!"

          No, that doesn't work either.

          "Tell me lord, how should one praise thy toadyness?"

        2. -tim

          Re: Darwin alarmed?

          Extra legs often happen when two zygotes form at just the right time and somehow merge into some level of conjoined twins however if this was a result of a parasite, it might be very helpful to know which one caused it and where it was imported from.

    2. The Original Cactus

      Re: Darwin alarmed?

      I think it's a pun on the name of a certain antipodean city...

      1. raving angry loony

        Re: Darwin alarmed?

        re: pun

        Ya know, I completely missed that. d'uh.

  2. wowfood

    I was hoping for a pic of the 6 legged, or even the 5 legged version.

    1. Fred M

      There's a photo if you follow the link to the original article.

  3. Jeebus

    You're obviously mistaken.

    Surely god gave him the extra legs because this toad was more pious, a devout follower of the western presbelutheran saints of unitarian christadelphianism. The one true faith.

    1. Paul_Murphy

      Re: You're obviously mistaken.

      So you're saying that _this_ toad has a soul? since to be pious it would need to be not only self-aware but also be capable of faith?

      or maybe that _all_ toads have souls?

      Does that mean that you are postulating that _all_ animals have a soul?

      Be careful - once you open the pandoras box of religious stupid double-talk you can't close it again...

      Oh - and for anyone of a religious bent the above is a joke....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paul.

        Genesis says the animal "are living souls". So it seems a bit off the mark for definitions with your post.

        1. Elmer Phud

          Re: soul music

          Your soul

          My soul

          Our soles?

          1. M Gale

            Re: soul music

            My soul?

            My foot!

            1. Zombie Womble

              Virgin soul for sale.

              Completely free of any religion and open to any dogma.

              Will give up all vices and start praying to required faith on receipt of funds.( All religious texts included)

              Offers accepted starting at £10 million.

              Over 90's only.

            2. Eddy Ito

              Re: soul music

              I wanted a Soul but the wife insisted on a Honda.

        2. Shakje

          Re: Paul.

          Depends on the original text. I'm pretty sure (having had several discussions with various people about the matter) that the word for soul in this context is entirely different from the word that is used to suggest god put his "breath" into humans to make them live. Many would hold that this is what is really meant by the soul and why humans are different from animals.

  4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    It's perfectly logical

    It's in Oz, remember? This way the beast can drink more before being totally legless.

    The one smelling of cheap booze, thanks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's perfectly logical

      Have a read of the commentards over at the NT News story. Territorians at their best.

  5. Mike Banahan

    No Less?!!

    No FEWER, thank you.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Just one question

    What is it in Australia that accelerated animal mutation so ?

    In a mere 80 years or so, the cane toad has not only mutated stronger/longer legs, but is now growing more of them ?

    Is the Australian cane toad the basis of the future Zerg ?

    I think we should be told ?

    1. Smallbrainfield

      Re: Just one question

      Stronger/longer legs in 80 years due to natural selection is entirely possible. If the conditions favour longer legged toads, then that is what you will get.

      Extra legs (like longer legs) is a mutation, that will be unlikely to spread as the article points out that the toad in question was clumsy. We can assume clumsy toads will be less successful than their long-legged brethren.

      Short answer: Don't expect Zergs rushing to knock down your door anytime soon.

      1. TS

        Re: Just one question

        "Stronger/longer legs in 80 years due to natural selection is entirely possible. If the conditions favour longer legged toads, then that is what you will get."

        The toads aren't in a closed system, but expanding outwards. The longer/stronger legged toads can travel more than their short/weaker legged compatriots, meaning that each breeding cycle only breeds those with long/strong legs as they keep expanding out.

        It would be interesting to find out how those left near the origin are fairing. Are they more muscular overall, having to compete with each other? Are they smaller, having to fight for the same resources? Any other advantages or disadvantages show up that aren't seen in those out on the perimeter?

    2. Lee Dowling

      Re: Just one question

      Though mutations might take millions of years to occur, the success of them can happen in mere decades.

      Think about it - the gene mutations to give a toad longer legs than its mother/father will only happen quite rarely - and even rarer for them to not negatively affect the animal and even rarer to positively affect the animal. DNA and its associated mechanisms actually has a lot of error-checking-and-correction code inside it, according to the geneticist I live with, so it's quite hard for even a mutation of junk DNA to actually do anything noticeable. But once a toad is out there with longer legs, breeding and stealing food that the other toads can't get to / can't get to fast enough, the wipeout and replacement can be quite quick.

      This is what we see in the archaeological record too. It took BILLIONS of years to get from single-celled to multi-celled animals. But it took only MILLIONS of years to get from there to crustaceans because it was SO much more efficient and successful to be an animal than a cell. And we've only been around for 200,000 years in our modern form (i.e. not hairy, having goosebumps instead of your hair standing up, having wisdom teeth that do nothing and are too big for your jaw, etc.).

      Genetic mutation is damn slow. Natural selection is damn fast (literally, within generations and with lots of animals a generation can be less than a year!). Evolution is a conjoining of both concepts to explain long, long histories. When we evolved out of our predecessors, the predecessor pretty much died off or was isolated very, very quickly. There aren't still Neanderthal walking the Earth because we wiped them out, either because we perceived them as a threat and destroyed every simple example across the globe or (more likely) we interbred and eventually bred their genes out for more successful ones. And we did it far, far, quicker than you'd think.

      This is why it is hard / nonsensical to go looking for a Missing Link to join ancient species and ourselves. The amount of time the evolution takes to a even a single example of a more successful form is enormous, but the change is almost immediate when it happens.

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: Just one question

        Also organisms with shorter generative lifespan / high birthrate will tend to have the capacity to evolve more quickly as they get to 'try' more mutations per unit time.

  7. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Shame it's a toad

    If it had been a frog, some of my (French) friends would have been totally excited!

  8. i like crisps
    Thumb Up

    Get the WAH WAH pedal ready

    Maybe it's not a leg, maybe it's the toad equivalent of John Holmes?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sounds cool, somebody tell the French.

    1. Slaytanic

      Re: Spider-frog

      Why the French? The Chinese are much closer and there are a lot more of them. Get a bunch of Chinese medicine doctors to say that it makes your penis bigger, or gives you more "staying power" and you'd have hoards of Chinese come in to catch them all. The cane toad problem would be solved in less than 5 years...

      1. Thecowking
        Thumb Up

        Re: Spider-frog

        No need for medicinal reasons

        Sichuan bullfrog soup is delicious, if cane toads were tasty, I'm sure we Chinese would be eating them already.

        Damn, I want some frog now :(

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: Spider-frog

        Having hoards of Chinese come in to catch them all, the cane toad problem would be solved in less than 5 years...

        What do you do with the cure?

        Given the toads were introduced to cure something in the first place.

  10. frank ly

    Four legs good, ....

    .... six legs weird.

  11. TrishaD


    An Antipodean mutation


    Jake the Peg

    I rest my case....

  12. ravenviz Silver badge


    These are not the opposable thumbs you are looking for!

  13. Great Bu

    All hail the six legged hypno-toad !

  14. Thomas 18
    Thumb Up

    Top men

    It's ok we have top men trying to expand the leg capacity of the humans too. Project Human Centipede has had it's knock-backs but I have reliable intel that recently a stable 8 legged human was briefly created. This puts us well ahead of our amphibian rivals.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Would a six legged Cane Toad tee-up nicer than a four legged one for the traditional dispatching with an iron?

  16. VinceH


    Does its diet include insects, at all? And, if so, has it perhaps eaten too many of them - thus proving that "you are what you eat".

  17. Only me!

    The story....

    has legs. It will run and run.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      Re: The story....

      Don't you mean "hop and hop"?

  18. Crisp

    Mutant Toads

    Mutants are quite common if there are no predators to mop them up. They tend to be the first to get eaten usually.

  19. Maxson

    Given the problems these little bastards cause, they should re-release the 6 legged one if it makes it more clumsy and keep capturing healthy ones in hopes that this bad mutation continues and it slows the toads down in general.

  20. AceRimmer1980
    IT Angle

    All Glory

    to the hexotoad.

  21. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    with apologies to Matt Groening

    "Spider Toad. Spider Toad. Does whatever a Spider Toad does..."

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: with apologies to Matt Groening

      You've found an eight-legged one?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: with apologies to Matt Groening

        coming soon...

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