Sunday, 24 January 2016

Amphibious

I braved the rain and lighting to visit the Australian Museum this week to hear a presentation by passionate amphibian specialist Dr Rowley.

She has recently discovered some unusually beautiful species unknown to science in the mountain forests of Cambodia, such as the Thorny Tree Frog with its delicate pastel pink underbelly. The males grow spines it is believed to impress lady friends. 


The Samkos Bush Frog is equally notable. It may look like an ordinary green frog but has green blood and turquoise coloured bones - a possible defence against malaria infection. 


The Vampire Flying Frog is another find by Rowley's team. The species gets it name from tadpoles which display strange fangs unlike anything seen in Frog World before. 



The tadpoles are notable also in that they are found in waterlogged tree hollows without any apparent source of food. Observation led the scientists to discover that mother Vampire frogs return to the hollow to feed their babies by laying unfertilized eggs for them to consume (quite different from the popular understanding of non-mammals as lacking maternal instinct). This diet is the likely reason for the fangs, which allow the tadpoles to grip the eggs. Neat!

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