Surinam Toad: Appreciating the Wonderful Creation of Allah
In a well-known fairy tale, a princess reluctantly kissed a frog in exchange for its help to retrieve a ball that she dropped into a pond. However, kissing the frog in that particular story is considered lucky because the slimy-skinned and webbed feet-creature ultimately transformed into a charming prince which then fulfilled the love story between them.
It takes courage for the spoiled princess to touch an amphibian such as frogs. It may even take extra courage to touch uglier kind of frogs like a toad, especially a distinct species such as the Surinam toad. Like many other toads, the Surinam toad or scientifically known as Pipa pipa appears to have bumpy skin, but it has a unique and distinctive appearance that resembles a mottled brown leaf and almost completely flat in shape. It is a native species of South America which can be found in slow-moving streams and rivers.
Apart from their unique appearances, the Surinam toad also has odd reproductive habits that make it different from other species of toads. Unlike the common habits of many other species of toads, the fertilised eggs of Surinam toads are not deposited somewhere such as on pond vegetation, floating on the water surface, or the pond bottom. Rather, they are safely kept underneath the skin of the females.
During each reproductive process, the female releases around three to ten eggs. After the intercourse, the eggs land on the skin at the back of the females by the movement of the males. Under hormonal influences, the skin at the back of the female becomes thicker and eventually grows up around the eggs.
The eggs eventually get embedded and sink into the skin and form pockets after several days following the implantation. The pockets take on the appearance of an irregular honeycomb or lotus pod. The weird appearance of these pockets may trigger people with trypophobia, an version or fear of clusters of small holes, bumps, or patterns.
The embryos safely develop through to the tadpole stage inside these pockets. When they are ready, the young eventually erupt from their mother’s skin as fully developed toads. Once they have emerged from their mother’s back, the toads begin a mainly solitary life.
Indeed, the unique reproductive habits of Surinam toads deviate from the common one making it somewhat a freak in comparison to many other species of toads and frogs. In the field of natural science in which the process of exploring and understanding the law of nature are conducted, scientists may find countless unusual and bizarre discoveries. Some of them may deviate from the current limited understanding of science and consequently bring about a breakthrough in science.
In the eyes of believers, it is Allah who created all living creatures and the universe. By comprehending His power as a Creator, one can appreciate the manifestations of His boundless knowledge and will. In this way, one can understand that everything one sees is the product of Allah’s power and intelligence. By acknowledging the intelligence and creative power of Allah, one will come closer to Allah and realise that he needs to have faith in Him.
As strange as Surinam toads can be, they are neither a coincidence nor accidental. Their existence and extraordinary features are entirely within the wisdom and creative powers of Allah. It is recorded in the Quran, chapter 59, verse 24 that, “He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”
There are still countless mind-blowing creations of Allah that have yet to be understood and appreciated. For example, we usually believe that the love between two parties result in living happily together forever. This might be true for humans and many other living organisms. However, it might not be the case for a species of spider known as the black widow. The female black widow sometimes kills and eats the males after mating in a macabre behaviour that gave the insect its name.
Another example is in the common knowledge that it is the role of the female mammals to undergo the gestation process and deliver the next generation. However, for seahorses, this energy-consuming process is taken over by the males.
Indeed, there are many other astonishing creatures and phenomena in this world that we have yet to discover. For a human to be able to value all these, one requires an insight which sees everything with wisdom. Seeing everything around with wisdom is the best means of referring to Allah as the greatest existence and power above all.
For a Muslim, it is important to acknowledge the power of Allah in commanding everything into existence and occurrence including matters beyond the capability of the human imagination. This is emphasised in the Quran, Chapter 32, verse 82, “His command is only when He intends a thing that He says to it, “Be,” and it is.”