Help Solve the Case

Help Solve the Case


Sandra Markle’s book, The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs, follows biologist Karen Lips as she struggles to solve the mystery of what is causing the disappearance of the Panamanian golden frog. The book shows how a scientist performs an investigation to solve a problem. You will see that sometimes an investigation is successful only by involving different scientists who are experts in different fields. As you read the book, put yourself in the place of Dr. Lips and help her solve the mystery. (Adapted from Sandra Markle’s blog “Write On!”)

Frogs of the world need you to be a science detective and help solve a scientific mystery. Scientists investigate real-world problems and work to find solutions. Right now, scientists are working on The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs. They're after a serial killer—one guilty of killing so many frogs that some kinds no longer exist outside of safe places, like zoos.

So if you're ready to join the science detective task force for this case, read a copy of the book and dig in.

Can you identify the killer in time to save the Panamanian golden frogs? Can you find a way to stop this killer before even more kinds of frogs become victims?

I.       Karen Lips discovered the first frog victims.

When did she make this discovery?



Where in the world were the bodies?



Why was it important that the dead frogs were not decayed?


II.    Just as detectives get help from a Medical Examiner, Karen Lips turned to a pathologist, someone who studies diseases.

Check out the clue the pathologist discovered when he looked at a sample of the frog victim's skin with a microscope. He reported that it wasn't like anything he'd ever seen before.

So Karen Lips decided to check out the three usual suspects that kill animals:

  1. Habitat (home territory) Destruction
  2. Pollution
  3. Climate Change

III. Keep on reading to investigate and learn the answers to these questions.

What kind of habitat do Panamanian golden frogs need to be healthy?



Why was habitat destruction proved not guilty of killing the golden frogs?



Why would polluted streams be a big problem for adult golden frogs?



Why would polluted water be especially bad for tadpoles (baby golden frogs)?



Why did Karen decide water pollution definitely wasn't killing the golden frogs?



What two things did Karen Lips then check out to prove climate change wasn’t the frog killer?



Joyce Longcore finally identified the frog killer as a chytrid fungus, a kind of plantlike living thing. What did she see that let her figure out this was the killer?



Because she was the first to identify this new kind of chytrid fungus, Joyce was allowed to name it. She called it Batachochytrium dendrobatidis—Bd for short.

IV. Now that the killer's identity is known, your job is to stop it from killing more golden frogs.

So you'll need to find out these two things about how this killer attacks its victims. Use the clues you've already discovered to answer these questions.

  • Who's more at risk—adult golden frogs or tadpoles?


  • In what kinds of environmental conditions is Bd most likely to kill?


Armed with the profile of the killer, you can help the scientific SWAT team save Panamanian golden frogs from being killed by Bd. Which of the steps listed below needs to be done first, second, third, and so forth?

  • Carry golden frogs in plastic bags to cleaning sites.
  • Ship healthy frogs to zoos with special golden frog habitats.
  • Breed golden frogs in zoo habitats to maintain the golden frog population.
  • Collect both male and female golden frogs from their wild habitat.
  • Treat captured golden frogs with a fungus-killing chemical for ten days.

What are two things being done to try and wipe out chytrid fungus so frogs can be safe in the wild?


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