Meet the Foam Nest

Physalaemus petersi communal foam nest in Ecuador  (Photo Credit: Mónica Guerra)
Physalaemus petersi communal foam nest in Ecuador
(Photo Credit: Mónica Guerra)

Reproductive modes in frogs vary greatly, as do the ways in which they deposit their eggs. The túngara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus (=Engystomops), which is the main focus in my lab constructs a “foam” nest–an adaptive character which I’ve become interested in exploring. Foamy substances are produced by some insects, tunicates, fish and, perhaps most famously, frogs.

Foam nests may be constructed by frogs in trees, underground burrows, on top of water, or nearby water sources. This phenomenon has evolved independently several times in both old and new world frogs, living in tropical and subtropical areas. Continue reading “Meet the Foam Nest”

Meet the ‘Semaphore’ Frog

Green-spotted rock frog (Staurois tuberilinguis)
Green-spotted rock frog (Staurois tuberilinguis)

I am lucky enough to spend my days in a frog communication lab, but everyone on the street knows how frogs communicate-by calling (if you didn’t know that, I’m really sorry about the sad life you’ve been living. Please go outside today and sit in the grass. Maybe quit your job. Also, let your parents know you’d be better off if you were raised by wolves because at least then you’d know the glory of nature).

In general, we think of frogs calling from the edge of the pond where the only competition is from other male frogs. It gets more interesting when you consider some frogs call near rushing water and the modifications they must make to their call. Calling is energetically costly and competing with rushing water can surely be exhausting. Some frogs have developed another mode in which to signal by using semaphore. Indeed, the frogs of the genus Staurois from Borneo still call, but the streams are so loud that they modify their call and employ this semaphore in the form of foot flagging. Continue reading “Meet the ‘Semaphore’ Frog”

Meet the Lake Titicaca Frog

Lake Titicaca resides between Bolivia and Peru at an extremely high altitude. One animal that has evolved to live in the environment is the Lake Titicaca frog (Telmatobius culeus) whose Latin name possibly started as a joke during an expedition in the late 1800s. Because there is sparse oxygen at high altitudes this frog has tons of extra skin to increase the surface area for oxygen absorption. While the average size of the frogs in the lake home has decreased over time, so too has the overall population and the IUCN now considers this animal as critically endangered. In the past, frog legs of Telmatobius culeus were eaten by visitors and locals alike, and animals were often used in local medicines. As a result of the IUCN status many locals are turning from cooking frog legs for dinner to becoming conservationists. Click on the link to watch the video!
ARKive video - Lake Titicaca frog - swimming underwater and eating shed skin

“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.

Knit frog guts

“Knitting in Biology 101” by Emily Stoneking

Emily Stoneking is not only the name of my favorite Jarl from Skyrim, but also knits dissected frogs. You read all of that right.

Cast your eyes to port on that wonderment. Frog dissections have never been so adorable.

According to the description:

3 out of 4 biologists agree: Knitting in Biology 101 is the cutest biology project, ever!

What I want to know is who is that fourth broken soul? Actually, I know who it is. I went to grad school with him. Yeah, I’m talking about you.


The Art of Science: Wallace’s Flying Frog


Last week, the Natural History Museum in London unveiled a digital archive of the letters of 19th century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer with Charles Darwin, of evolution by natural selection. The archive, introduced on the 100th anniversary of Wallace’s death, naturally focuses on his writings, but also contains some paintings and drawings. Wallace, who spent years in far-flung places collecting specimens, didn’t have the option of pulling out a camera to document his finds. He often sketched or painted his discoveries, including this lovely watercolor of a flying frog which he painted in Sarawak. It may not be Audubon-level in its artistry and detail, but it’s a useful scientific illustration which also has great personality and charm.

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