- 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
- 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!
- 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.
- Triadobatrachus massinoti is modern frog’s oldest ancestor. This species lived in Madagascar about 250 million years ago.
- Frogs help control the population of pests around you; the following poster by Vancouver Aquarium strikes the right chord.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 –
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