Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Gut Feeling

Well, this week I had intended to write about the African Wart Frog, which is both incredibly cute and unbelievably ugly at the same time. Alas, I couldn’t find enough information about it, so I had to find another amphibian to take its place1. This one seemed to fit due to the fact that the WWF catalog that I mentioned in the last post was about “Wildlife Families.”
Image by Ella Tyler via EDGE

This is an image of the Southern Gastric-Brooding Frog (Rheobatrachus silus). In 2002, they were moved from their status as endangered to extinct2. They looked like the typical grey and semi-aquatic frog, but their name gives away everything they were as parents. After mating, the female eats the eggs. Literally—there is no special mouth-pouch or anything like that; the eggs go straight into the stomach. This isn’t too much of a problem, since the female shuts down her digestive tract and does not eat anything from six to seven weeks. By this time, the frogs turn into froglets, and are ready to hop out of her mouth.

Living in Southern Australia, they were never found more than 12 feet from water. When they weren’t raising the kids, they’d eat all the insects they could catch. Their extinction is a mystery. The feral pigs that reside in the same habitat and the disruption of the water flow obviously couldn’t help, not to mention the problems that global climate change is causing all amphibians, what with more drought and higher UV levels. I suppose this makes the real mystery which one caused the most damage. If anyone was wondering why we care about the extinction of the Gastric-Brooding Frog, medical science will never know how the females turned off their stomach acid. Looks like I’ll have to stick with Nexium. Scientists have been on the lookout for them, but alas, none have been seen since 1981.

1All right, it didn’t have to be an amphibian, but I really do try to be all-inclusive when it comes to the major taxa. Since it’s been about two months since the last amphibian, I thought it was time for another one.
2I was really trying to avoid using the past tense to make this a blow at the end, but the thought of writing three paragraphs without any forms of “be” seemed too difficult.


Anonymous said...

possibly of use in your search for rare, ugly things? :)

Anonymous said...

The photo makes me think of those Russian nesting dolls....with another frog inside of the tiny frog, etc...

Yes, ugly extinct things would be another way to go. Sigh.

Professor Buckeye said...

That does kind of just make me sad. It doesn't help that the thing was kind of cute.

And I'm really tired of Zantac.

And I'm not sure what Rheo means but Batracus means a kind of fish and Silus means 'pug nosed'

Victorya said...

I think it's incredibly cute! But I like frogs and read Sherman's Lagoon, who am I to judge such thing?

Isn't there a stat on how many species become extinct per minute? It's sad. Those frogs looked awesome. It's like when we had to watch the video of the last marsupial wolf when I was in junior high. Scarred me for life, poor thing crying trapped in a cage.

Rainstorm said...

D'awww. It's even cuter with a baby in its mouth. D'awww.
And it makes me sad that it went extinct...sometimes I forget that happens and when I remember it does, it makes me sad again.