Located exactly between the glitz of Los Angeles and the quirkiness of San Francisco sits Coalinga (Calif.)
. Sure, we can call it Coalinga, but let's call it the "Home of the Horned Toads."
It's the only home of Horned Toads in all of high school athletics, and it's a story that dates back to 1933,
according to the Coalinga Chamber of Commerce
. The town, located on the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley, began hosting races of wild reptiles back in 1933 thanks to the junior chamber of commerce and soon after its inception, the event became known as the "Annual Running of the Horned Toads."
The running has only been stopped by World War II and a 1983 earthquake.
Students at the local high school took on that mascot name in 1938, and it has stuck since then. When you look at the Coalinga High website
, there are even mentions that the mascot logo may have a name: Oscar.According to National Geographic
, the horned toad is actually a short-horned lizard, and it does not come from the Coalinga area. Its face looks like a toad and it has spikes (or horns) on its head and back, and they feed on ants for the most part. They also eat grasshoppers, beetles and spiders.
They have a pair of traits that make them worthy of being a feared mascot: They can puff their bodies up to twice their actual size, and they can shoot blood from the corners of their eyes to fight off predators.
Despite their spiky features, short-horned lizards are preyed upon by a number of creatures, including hawks, roadrunners, snakes, lizards, dogs, wolves, and coyotes. Consequently, beyond their natural camouflage, they have adapted a pair of remarkable talents. In order to ward off hungry predators, short-horned lizards are capable of inflating their bodies up to twice their size, resembling a spiny balloon. And if this proves insufficient, some species employ one of the animal kingdom’s most bizarre defensive mechanisms: They shoot blood from their eyes.