Revisiting the most widely heard amphibian voice

In 1951, George S. Myers, an ichthyologist and curator at the Standford University Natural History Museum, published a paper in Copeia titled “The most widely heard amphibian voice.” He described how the calls of pacific chorus frogs appeared in movies set around the world, often far outside of their native range. These frogs range from Baja California north to British Columbia, but their conspicuous calls and distribution around Hollywood led to their voices being recorded and used in many movies.

Their call is distinctive, described by Myers as “rurrkk-uk, rurrkk-uk, rurrkk-uk” and in Robert Stebbins’ field guide as “Kreck-ek”. You can hear recordings or watch videos of them on my frog call page.

My colleagues and I have made jokes about the misplaced calls of Pacific Chorus Frogs for many years, but I haven’t paid much attention to specific movies with the frogs until this month. After hearing pacific chorus frogs calling in both Marco Polo and Gone Girl, I decided to start taking notes on the movies where I heard the frogs. A much longer list of movies using pacific chorus frogs outside of their native range can be found at the Internet Movie Database. Listed below are just my observations since January 2015. I’ll update the map as I notice more movies featuring these frogs.

The red section of the map below illustrates the natural geographic range of the pacific chorus frog (although they are sometimes accidentally moved outside of their range). The numbers indicate the settings of movies featuring the calls of pacific chorus frogs.

(1) The Netflix series Marco Polo featured calling pacific chorus frogs in a garden in a Song Dynasty city about nine minutes into episode seven.

(2) The movie Gone Girl was largely set in Missouri, and featured the calls of pacific chorus frogs in many of the nighttime scenes.

Map of Pacific Chorus Frogs heard in movies

Original map obtained from the NASA website

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