#FridayFrogFact – These Mind-blowing Facts Will Convince You To Spend Your Christmas With Frogs

  1. All amphibians lack scales and instead have a highly permeable skin (through which they breathe!). This differentiates them from reptiles. These vertebrates are divided further into three orders: Anura, Caudata/Urodela and Gymnophiona

    Picture Credits – Dreams Of Animals, Reptile Magazine (CRISTI180884/SHUTTERSTOCK), DKfindout.com
  2. Biologically speaking, different types of amphibians are amazingly different from one another. To make it a little more clear, a frog is as different from a salamander as a horse is from a bat!Source - pixabay.com
  3. Frogs have occupied almost every available habitat on earth except the sea and oceans, the distant oceanic islands and the frozen zones in the Arctic and Antarctic. They are seen in desserts for a limited period when there’s water and can tolerate temperatures up to minus 7 degrees for more than 3 months.
    Madhushri Mudke
  4. Triadobatrachus massinoti is modern frog’s oldest ancestor. This species lived in Madagascar about 250 million years ago.

    Credits – Pavel.Riha.CB at the English language Wikipedia
  5. Frogs help control the population of pests around you; the following poster by Vancouver Aquarium strikes the right chord.

    Poster by Vancouver Aquarium
  6. Amphibians are an enormously diverse group. They make a large proportion of living vertebrates, although mammals are often considered dominant. There are about 7,605 species of amphibians all around the world. India is home to about 399 species of amphibians – 358 are frogs, 39 caecilians and 2 salamanders according to Amphibian Web.Source - pixabay.com
  7. In 1997, the first ever fungal infection was reported in amphibians. It was named Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in 1999. In India, a report in 2011 by Dr Gururaja KV showed traces of fungal infection in Fejervarya caperata, a commonly occurring cricket frog.

    This picture appears in a report published in the scientific journal ‘Current Science’ in 2011 and cannot be reproduced elsewhere without explicit permission from the author!
  8. Till date, Bd has been responsible for wiping out more than 200 species of amphibians. Yes, sadly these species will probably never be seen again.
  9. Toughie, the Frog – Toughie, was the last living individual of Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum). In July 2013, National Geographic featured him in their magazine and made him a star. He and his fellow mates were the victims of the deadly Bd fungus. He was captured in Panama in 2005 by scientists trying to save his species from dying. He then lived in captivity in Georgia. Despite all efforts to save this rare species, Toughie died a tragic death on 26th September 2016. Toughie was and will always remain a star- the last of his kind, mourned by the world that killed his species.

    Brian Gratwicke from DC, USA for Wiki
  10. Amphibians, especially frogs and toads are considered to be the best bioindicators of the health of the environment. In spite of their importance a higher proportion of amphibians is threatened; they require immediate attention if we are to save them!
    Have a look at the graph below –
Source - The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians by Kentwood D. Wells
Source – The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians by Kentwood D. Wells

Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoyed that article. Stay tuned for more such amazing frog facts – we post every Friday!

If you have missed any of the previous #FridayFrogFact posts – read them all over here! And if you liked this article, join our growing community of amazing froggers on Facebook. Also please fill out this form and tell me what would you like to read in the next post.

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#FridayFrogFact – Five Beautiful Frog Quotes!

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The toad’s lullaby note comes from the far margin, sweeter than all others. . . . This song has been compared to the slow opening movement of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’.

Mary C. Dickerson, The Frog Book (1906) 

Amphibia are cold-blooded; they lack the mechanisms which give the higher types both freedom from environmental change and constancy of chemical activity at the optimum conditions for the expenditure of their energies. . . . Hence their energy sources, the food and oxygen, are made available at a much slower rate in these forms. . . . Amphibia are not able to make use, to the fullest extent, of either their nervous or their motor systems. They remain slaves of their surroundings.

G. Kingsley Noble, The Biology of the Amphibia (1931)  

The typical amphibian is still chained to the water. In the water it is born; to the water it must periodically return. We have noted various devices among living amphibians which have enabled them to circumvent this difficulty to some extent. But these makeshifts have not been particularly successful. The amphibian is . . . in many respects, little more than a peculiar type of fish which is capable of walking on land

Alfred Sherwood Romer, The Vertebrate Story (1959)  

These world-filling, mind-altering choruses of spring peepers have no equal in the northeastern landscape. There is talk now of the silence of the frogs, of their striking diebacks, and declines and the disappearance of species globally. . . . It is a silencing that has taken other voices than those of frogs, as well as voiceless presences, all inevitably vanishing with the disappearance of the places in which they must live

David M. Carroll, Swampwalker’s Journal (1999)

The sound, which the scientific books describe as “croaking,” floats far and wide, and produces a beautiful, mysterious effect on a still evening when the last heavy-footed labourer has trudged home to his tea, leaving the world to darkness and to me.

W. H. Hudson, The Book of a Naturalist (1919)

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#FridayFrogFact – These Bamboo Bush Frogs Have a Unique Mating Strategy

capture_white-spottedfrog
White-spotted Bush Frog (Raorchestes chalazodes)

In many human cultures around the world, frogs have long been associated with fertility and breeding. This is because of their association with life-giving water. Right from Egypt to India to the Mayan region in North America, people have considered frogs to be the symbols of fertility. Heqet, an Egyptian goddess of fertility is represented in the form of a frog.

ochlandrae300
Ochlandra-reed Bush Frog (Raorchestes Ochlandrae)

That being said, reproduction in amphibians wasn’t well understood until the eighteenth century. But today we know a lot more about frog reproduction. Adult frogs vocalize to be noticed by females. After unique courtship ritual they bear offsprings by laying eggs near water. These eggs develop into tadpoles – tiny little creatures with tails who spend their entire life in water. The tadpoles metamorphose into adult frogs. After tremendous efforts from biologists from all around the world, novel breeding behaviors are being documented (read Breeding Behaviour of the Kumbhara Night Frog). Amphibians, especially frogs, show remarkable reproductive strategies. The Ochlandra-reed bush frog (Raochestes ochlandrae) and the White-spotted bush frog (Raorchestes chalozodes) also exhibit one such unique breeding trait. These stunning bush frogs are endemic to the Western Ghats of India. They belong to the Rhacophoridae family of anurans (frogs and toads collectively). See below: 

Picture Credits - A Pictorial Guide to Frogs and Toads of Western Ghats ; Mr. David V. Raju ; Ansil B. R.
Picture Credits – Pictorial Guide to Frogs and Toads of Western Ghats ; Mr. David V. Raju ; Ansil B. R.

The Ochlandra-reed bush frog was described in 2007 from the Waynaad hill ranges. This stunning frog was seen living within hollow bamboo stems. Another frog from the same genus, the White-spotted bush frog was considered extinct till very recently. But in 2011, it was rediscovered by a team of passionate researchers.

If the strange looks of the reed frog and the rediscovery of an extinct frog wasn’t fascinating enough, then the following facts about their breeding habits will blow your mind –

  1. They both lay their eggs inside the hollows of Bamboo stems – In the bamboo plant, the stems are the structures that you see above the ground. These star-eyed frogs lay their eggs inside the stems. But I am sure you know that the bamboo stems are really hard, piercing through would be impossible for a tiny frog. If that’s the case, then how do these tiny frogs enter inside? Well, they are smarter than you think- they use ready-made oval openings created by rodents and insects! The following video is sure to cause your jaws to drop –http://amphibiaweb.org/sounds/Raorchestes_chalazodes12.mp4
  2. There are NO tadpoles – The process by which their young ones hatch is called ‘direct development’. These frogs skip the free-swimming tadpole stage by developing into tadpoles inside the eggs. When the eggs hatch; a fully developed froglet emerges – like the one in the picture below!

    A tiny frog-let emerges out of an egg
    A tiny froglet emerges out of an egg
  3. ‘Direct Development’ demands less water – Bypassing the tadpole stage gives them the advantage that lets them survive in conditions that have very less water. This adaptation might just be the reason behind their evolutionary and ecological success.
  4. They show parental care – Among frogs, parental care is highly uncommon. But it has been noted in frogs that show direct development. This fascinating characteristic allows higher chances of survival of their offspring. Parental care can be provided in various forms like egg attendance, egg transport, tadpole attendance, tadpole feeding, etc. These frogs take to attending to the eggs inside the bamboo cavity. 

    An adult frog sits attending its egg inside the bamboo stem
    An adult frog sits attending its eggs inside the bamboo stem
  5. Similar reproduction but different bamboo preferences – Although the frogs demonstrate  similar modes of reproduction, they prefer different species of bamboo plants. The reason for this isn’t clear but could be associated with their distribution within the Western Ghats. The two species show no overlap and are separated by a physical barrier – Palghat Gap. The Ochlandra-reed frog prefers bamboo plant called the Ochlandra setigera. The White-spotted frog (Critically Endangered according to IUCN) however breeds in a bamboo species – Ochlandra travancorica commonly called the Indian-reed Bamboo or Elephant Bamboo. This plant is used extensively for commercial purposes like making flutes and in the paper and pulp industry.330px-ochlandra_scriptoria_plant

 

As you can see – these 2 species of frogs have really fascinating (and at the same time extremely unique) reproductive habits. I’m sure you now see why I absolutely adore Bush Frogs. Are you equally in love with these wonderful lil’ froggies? Tell me more in the comments!

PS: Unless otherwise stated the pictures used here appear in the scientific paper published in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (2014); Dr Gururaja KV and Mr Seshadri KS are the copyright holders. These pictures/videos CANNOT be reproduced elsewhere without explicit permission from the owners!

PPS: Stay tuned for more such amazing frog posts- we post every Friday!
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If you liked this article, join our growing community of amazing froggers on Facebook.

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#FridayFrogFact – The ‘Pig-nosed’ Purple Frog

A bloated frog with it’s roots in the Seychelles and Madagascar was discovered in Kerala in 2003 by Dr SD Biju. It has a pig-like snout, glossy slimy skin, a drab purple colored body and yes it’s a frog (although it really doesn’t look like one). A combination of features such as this would be sure to creep out any normal human being- but not us researchers. With looks like this, it’s not surprising that this frog (doesn’t it remind you of a walrus?) has made it to BBC’s list of 8 ugly looking animals that needs conservation.

Picture by Dr SD Biju, University of Delhi
Picture by Dr SD Biju!

No matter how hard I try to portray this frog more beautifully, I think I’ll fail. So I will stick to stating interesting and unique facts about this endangered frog:

  • The frog lives about 12 feet below the ground in holes in the ground that it digs for itself (Be sure to carry a small stick before you go out on a hunt to find this lil’ weirdo!)
  • This species is known from only 2 localities (both in Kerala) in the entire world. It is categorized as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature   
  • The female lays about 3600 eggs at a time (yes! You read that right!) and the eggs hatch in about 100 days
  • The tadpoles of this frog use their snouts to cling onto rocks of fast flowing streams
  • Tribal communities in and around the forests in Kerala have been reported to consume these endangered tadpoles as a delicacy (such a shame ain’t it? We really should educate them to abandon this harmful tradition)
  • A single meal for a family of four would comprise of about 300 tadpoles with rice or tapioca
  • And lastly, a mating pair of this fascinating species would be the weirdest thing you’d ever see – check it out below and be amazed!
The one on top is the male. Isn’t this the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen :D ?
The one on top is the male frog. Isn’t this the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen 😀 ?

Hope with these facts you have learned about yet another mind blowing frog species. This frog hasn’t been reported from any protected area making conservation of areas within it’s range extremely important.

More Videos –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhcsXT3sOZU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSX_ZJoFXSQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj8mG5uHFWM&t=103s

More Info –

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/58051/0

http://www.wwfindia.org/about_wwf/priority_species/lesser_known_species/purple_frog/

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/02/19/animals-science-purple-frogs-india-calls/

http://www.strangeanimals.info/2014/09/indian-purple-frog-pignosed-frog.html

Stay tuned for more such amazing frog posts – we post every Friday!
If you have missed any of the previous #FridayFrogFact posts – read them all over here!

If you liked this article, join our growing community of amazing froggers on Facebook.

Also fill out this form and tell me what would you like to read in the next post. Don’t forget to follow Not-Just-Frogs campaign with Roots and Shoots by Dr Jane Goodall – here.

Now go and croak it out (read share this article) to the entire world on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments 🙂

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