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Deformed Toad Found in Le Center

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LE CENTER, Minn. -

It's a safe bet that there's nothing more fascinating as a kid than all the little critters that cross your path while outside playing.

But Britt and Briley Plym found something unique.
 
Britt says, "I grabbed it, and then I gave it to my little sister and put it in the bucket."
Briley says, "I looked to see if it was a boy or a girl and then I saw the extra leg growing out of its neck."

The little guy doesn't seem too hampered by his deformity, squirming out of a child's grasp with ease.

But what does this say about the ecology in the area?
 
Biology professor and coordinator for MSU's Toxicology program Steven Mercurio says, "The main thing is not to jump to conclusions. There may be a natural cause such as a parasite that has developed and that's happened before in amphibians along the Minnesota River Valley."
 
And it became a global fascination, too. While on a nature hike in 1995, students in Henderson noticed that about half of the frogs in one pond had deformities.

Scientists wanted to figure out what was going on, and the finger was first pointed toward chemicals used in farming.

While no direct cause was found, Mercurio leans toward the parasite explanation, though that doesn't mean we're out of the pond environmentally.

Mercurio says, "That doesn't mean parasite development early in the season is not a source of concern. People do not necessarily want a changing environment that is a host of parasites, that make more mosquitoes."

Either way, 'Tiny' as he's being called, will soon be released back into the wild.

For now, he's generating interest in everyone he meets.

Britt says, "More science. I have no clue how that happened, but I want to know."