Sunday, September 13, 2009

That Wacky Shakespeare

So today's Shakespeare quote from the little sidebar tool brings up one of those wacky Elizabethan ideas about the natural world:
"Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like a toad, though ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in its head."
Apparently European folklore held that toads had jewels in their heads, the mysterious and fabulous toadstones, which could detect poison.

This makes me wonder how the heck toads managed to thrive without being harvested for their valuable gems.

Also interesting to note that amphibians world wide are dying off in large numbers for somewhat mysterious causes. Among those causes one leading suspect is toxic pollutants from human activity along with a thinning ozone layer. Amphibians seem to be particularly susceptible to the presence of a lot of toxins, acting akin to canaries in a coal mine.

So perhaps those toads had a gift for detecting poison after all!

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