Now that's a clutch of healthy babies.
Now that’s a clutch of healthy babies. National Parks Service/Public Domain

Good news for fans of Mark Twain and competitive frog jumping competitions: California’s endangered red-legged frog, the star species of the author’s breakout short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, is making a comeback!

When Twain wrote the 1865 story, the frogs were abundant, and they were later named the official amphibian of California.

But since the story’s publication, their numbers have sharply declined, due to everything from loss of habitat to invasive species. Today, they are federally listed as a threatened species, and are protected by law.

But legal protection can’t make frogs have babies. Luckily, years of conservation and reintroduction efforts can, and to their elation, scientists with the National Park Service recently found nine egg clusters in the Santa Monica Mountains. These new batches of eggs are evidence that their efforts to regrow the red-legged frog population are working. 

The hope is that some of these eggs can be transplanted to other regions, and bolster the frogs’ population across the state, all the result of some animal sex that Twain himself would surely be delighted by.