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Final Editthe image we rescued from the cutting room floor

Bert Fox Illustrations editor Bert Fox describes the photo’s magnetism and the ruthless side of his job.

Cut It?
“We designed this story to follow the natural progression of development,” says illustrations editor Bert Fox, “starting with the moment of birth and then looking at the process of mating, rituals, and behavior. One of the spreads shows two frogs wrestling over mating territory, a very macho thing (pages 120-21 in the May issue of National Geographic). It was logical to follow that with the photo of this renaissance dad guarding an egg sac. But we had already introduced the visual element of birth in the opening of the story with a photo of a newborn frog emerging from the egg sac. As much as we liked this photo, we couldn’t repeat that theme. That’s part of the editing process, slicing with a ruthless knife to establish the end of a story.”

Or Keep It?
“This photo shows a behavior that we hadn’t seen anywhere else,” Fox continued. “I think we all tend to give human characteristics to animals. We looked at this picture and couldn’t help but see how endearing it is. This male frog is nurturing. He’s cradling his babies. It’s an amazing photograph, regardless of subject. With those factors working for it, this father frog was a natural choice for Final Edit.”

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Photograph by George Grall To send this image as a postcard click here.

The Fragile World of Frogs
Paternal Instincts

Doing his fatherly duty, a male Oreophryne frog in Papua, New Guinea, guards his clutch and two newly hatched froglets that rest atop the egg mass. Like many of the Microhylidae family, these frogs bypass the tadpole stage, developing fully within the egg. Each night the male Oreophryne embraces his clutch, possibly to keep the eggs moist or to protect them from small predators like insects. It’s a rarely seen behavior that photographer George Grall was determined to capture. After more than a week in remote rain forest, he got his chance. But this frog was on the underside of a leaf high in the air. So Grall slowly pulled down the branch and taped it to another branch to get a close-up. “I did it very carefully so I wouldn’t disturb him,” says Grall. “He just held on.”

Leap into the feature story this photo was originally taken for.
George Grall Zoom In for more images by George Grall.

Listen to Grall discuss getting personal with frogs.

Learn how Grall got two of his best frog photos in Point of View.

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