CLAUDE NURIDSANY & MARIE PERENNOU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CLAUDE NURIDSANY & MARIE PERENNOU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
European toads, Bufo bufo, mating among the flowering plant Ficaria ranunculoides. The male (top) is smaller and more slender than the female. When a male encounters a female ready to spawn he climbs onto her back. They then spend several days near water among reeds, until the female is ready to ovulate. The eggs are released into the water as 2 long fibres which are quickly fertilised by the male's sperm. This process is repeated 10-20 times until the entire fibre is 2 m long. The egg fibres are then pulled about and entangled around plants. Once ovulation ceases the male climbs off, and the female leaves the site.
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