wood frog

Photo credit: Øivind Tøien, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska.


Join us Thursday, May 6, at 7 pm PT for a free NightSchool livestream!

You know the saying: “Life finds a way.” Meet the world’s most poisonous bird, frogs that freeze every winter, tiny thermophiles, and other living organisms that have adapted—and thrive—via extreme measures and in extreme environments.


  • A small number of bird species living in the rainforests of New Guinea carry an extremely potent neurotoxin in their skin and feathers. Dr. Jack Dumbacher, the Academy’s Curator of Ornithology and Mammalogy, talks about the questions surrounding the pitohui birds’ chemical defenses: Where do they get the toxin and how do they use it? And how do they avoid becoming poisoned themselves?
  • How’s this for extreme? Wood frogs freeze solid every winter and thaw out for the spring. Don Larson, Assistant Professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks, studies how they survive the Arctic, where winters are harsh and unforgiving with temperatures of -40-degrees Celsius and below. These conditions would appear to be incompatible with being a "cold-blooded" animal, but wood frogs have incredible and unique adaptations to help them survive and thrive.
  • Life in the oasis of Mexico’s Cuatro Ciénegas Basin is extraordinarily diverse, despite the fact that it’s extremely poor in nutrients, high in salts, and has a wildly fluctuating pH. This site can also act as a proxy for early Earth, hosting a diversity of stromatolites and microbial mats with lineages dating back to Precambrian times. Dr. Valeria Souza, Professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, tells the story of this “lost world” and the secrets of the mountains that ring this mysterious desert oasis.

All NightLife virtual programming is intended for audiences 21+.



Missed the party? Just want to relive the magic? Watch the recorded livestreams on YouTube!


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Upcoming NightLife Events

April 22nd at 7:00 pm

Get inspired by people and organizations changing both the health of the environment and their communities.

April 29th at 7:00 pm

Explore the field of geology and a few of the ways the ground beneath our feet affects our lives—and vice versa.

May 6th at 7:00 pm

Meet tiny thermophiles and other living organisms that have adapted—and thrive—in extreme environments.