o The Frog Blog: Calaveras County Frog Jump

Monday, 19 July 2010

Calaveras County Frog Jump

In 1865, Mark Twain wrote a short story about The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, in which he described a competition to see how far a frog could jump. Little did he know, but in the spring of 1928 an actual frog jump took place in Calaveras County in California and it has been repeated annually ever since. The competition is open to anyone (frog jockeys) who compete to see who's frog can jump the farthest! One at a time, contestants place a frog on the carpeted stage and watch how far it can go in three jumps. The distance is measured from the starting point to the end of the third jump, so sharp turns are not welcome. The contestants can stamp their feet or do other things (within the rules) to encourage the frogs. The most common frog used in the voracious Bull Frog and the record currently stands at 21 feet and 5 inches!

But science has now stepped into the celebrated festival. Last year researchers from Brown University carried out a study at the frog jump aiming to measure how far the bull frog could actually jump in a single bound. Academic research suggested that a distance of just 1.3 metres was the maximum physically possible for the bullfrog, but the researchers were able to see that the bullfrog could easily manage over 2 metres or 7 feet at the Calaveras frog jump - farther than possible for the calculated power of bullfrog muscles. The researchers speculated that the frogs amplify their power by using their leg tendons as a spring, stretching the tendons and letting them snap back all at once. Check out this brilliant video clip from YouTube - a snippet from Jump, the Emmy nominated "frogumentary" on the Calaveras Frog Jump!



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