Burgess Daughtry, age 10, of Santa Maria, Calif., for his question:
How do horned toads reproduce?
Each type of animal has its own style of handing on life. Most of them lay Eggs and leave them in nature's care. Mammals bear babies, and cats, dogs and other advanced animals carry their young a long time. They also spend a long time tending and Educating them.
A protozoan multiplies by dividing itself into a pair of twins. This one celled animal leave3 behind no parents to grow old and die. The bodies of larger animals are made of many cells and certain cells specialize in certain duties. Their style of reproduction becomes more complicated. There are special cells for the job of handing on life. Each new life begins with a pair of matched cells, one from a female and one from a male parent.
A new life begins when two reproductive cells, one from each parent, unite and become a fertilized Egg cell. Nature has many methods for mating the male and female cells. Parent fishes, as a rule, strew cells into the water separately. A few pairs of cells unite and fertilize by chance, and the rest perish. The egg cells of the lizard are fertilized inside the female and carried for a while inside her body.
A horned toad is a reptile, and most reptiles lay eggs and leave them to hatch in the warm ground. In certain snakes and lizards, however, the eggs remain longer and develop more completely within the female's body. These mothers give birth to live offspring that look like miniature copies of their parents. The horned toad of our western deserts is a lizard reptile. The female may lay a clutch of eggs or bear her babies alive.
We have eight species of horned toad, some suited for life on the high, dry plateaus and others suited for life in the hot, low deserts. As a rule, those that live in the low deserts lay eggs. There may be 20 or 30 round, white reptile Eggs, and the clutch is buried several inches below the dry heat of the desert surface. The process of hatching may take a few hours or several weeks. Other horned toads give birth to have babies. The eggs remain inside the female until the fully developed youngsters hatch. Then a brood of maybe 12 to 18 little horned toads come forth to face the world.
Nature drives all her animals to reproduce and helps the fittest of each generation survive. Each animal has its breeding season, and the young arrive at the kindest time of the year. Horned toads lay their eggs in june or give birth in Early summer. Winter has passed, and the youngsters have a few mild weeks before summer scorches their desert home.