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Tuatara: Volume 9, Issue 2, November 1961

What Frogs Were These?

What Frogs Were These?

An early reference to frogs in New Zealand seems to have been overlooked by later writers. A trader named J. S. Polack, who lived in New Zealand from 1831 to 1837, published on his return to London in 1838 a book called New Zealand, being a narrative of travels and adventures during a residence in that country. In it he refers to toads and frogs which ‘abound in the swamps’, and specifically mentions that they croak before rain. The latter detail suggests Hyla aurea : it does not fit the native frogs. However, the earliest known introduction of any species of Hyla is generally placed in 1867 (McCann. 1961). Two years after Polack's book appeared New Zealand was visited by E. Dieffenbach, who published an account of his travels. The second volume of his work appeared in 1843. and included a catalogue of Reptiles and Amphibia by J. E. Gray. This cites Polack as stating that the New Zealand species resemble the European Amphibia, but indicates that Dieffenbach did not see any himself.

H. B. F.

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