Plate 59

Male Suriname Toad, with Eggs on Back (Deposited There by Female), Shells and Flowering Plant, 1705-1771

Not on Viewexpand_more

The Suriname toad has a remarkable reproductive cycle. During mating the female releases her eggs, which the male helps to embed in the skin of her back. Pockets form around the eggs and the tadpoles are allowed to develop into small frogs. Merian was one of the earliest naturalists to investigate the metamorphosis of amphibians. She found the Surname toad to be particularly fascinating, writing that when she observed the young crawling out of the mother's back, "I threw the female and her young into brandy" to preserve the specimens. She also recorded, "These toads are eaten by the natives, who consider them to be a good dish." Two shells are shown at the bottom; one clearly contains a hermit crab. "I had these shells brought up from the bottom of the sea in order to see what kind of creatures live in them…I pulled a number out with force and established they were a variety of crab," said the curious Merian. The aquatic plant is Sesuvium portulacastrum (Linnaeus), which she observed was "used as a kind of spinach or in a salad."

Male Suriname Toad, with Eggs on Back (Deposited There by Female), Shells and Flowering Plant
Artist Life
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Nissen: 1342; Cat. Ger. Nat'l Museum, 1967
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Show Detail

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

Plate 59