Hugh Pickens writes: "Although mating with another species (hybridization) is often maladaptive and females typically avoid other species as mates, Nature magazine is reporting the first example of harsh environmental conditions driving an animal across the species barrier. When drought threatens, one species of spadefoot toad will mate with more drought resistant toads of another species so that their offspring will have the best chance of survival even if it means that those offspring will have a lower chance of reproducing successfully. One possibility is that the toads need their offspring to develop more quickly when water is in short supply and field tests confirmed that hybrid tadpoles were more likely to survive through metamorphosis in rapidly drying pools. "Females are probably assessing a lot more out there than just how long the male's tail is," says Maurice Sabelis, Professor of Population Biology at the University of Amsterdam. "They are probably more sensitive to their own condition and environment when choosing a male.""