Researchers, 48 & 39
Why they're interesting: While on an expedition to an Ecuadorian reserve, this husband-and-wife research team discovered a frog that was able to change both the color and texture of its skin. A scientific paper published in The Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society last March claims this is the first shape-shifting amphibian ever found. Animal Attraction: Katherine first met Tim, who was a naturalist at the Cleveland Metroparks at the time, during a bat workshop he was leading. "I called the number in the Metroparks magazine and asked if a frog girl could come to a bat workshop," recalls Katherine, a postdoctoral scholar at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Hang Time: Katherine was instantly drawn to Tim. To spend more time with him, she asked to assist with his workshops. "I thought she just wanted to help out with the bats," Tim laughs. Keep Frog: The rate at which frogs are declining has been estimated to be around 2,700 times the normal extinction rate. "Amphibians are in a real dramatic decline right now," says Katherine. "They are a class of animals that really need our help." Discovery Channel: Tim and Katherine first spotted the spiky frog while on their annual trek to Ecuador in 2006. "When we sent the pictures to colleagues, they told us it was probably a new species," Tim says. The frog's ability to blend into the background made it hard to locate, though. It took three more years of searching before the duo was able to find the frog again. Shifting Times: In 2009, they spotted the fingernail-sized frog once more — but they almost threw it back. "When we took it back to the house to photograph, we noticed that the frog had a smooth texture," says Katherine. "It wasn't spiky at all. I put some moss in the cup with him — and a few minutes later, all the spikes had come back. I was shocked. This shape-shifting was not something amphibians did." Hopping Along: It took six more years to verify and document their discovery. Media such as The New York Times and NBC News have reached out to the Krynaks. "What we're most happy about [with this discovery] is that it helps us spread the word about how important land conservation is," Katherine says.