Wednesday 5 November 2014

Crucifix Frog

Image: eyeweed
Notaden bennettii
The brutal, Roman execution device is now a snazzy pattern on a plump frog...

Metamorphosis complete!

Image: Tnarg 12345
The Crucifix Frog is a gaudy, 6 cm (2 inch) frog from the dusty, arid areas of eastern Australia. They spend much of their lives burrowing underground and keeping out of the heat, because it's not like they're just going to stand there and boil now is it?

All in all, their lifestyle is not dissimilar from that of other podgy, froggy burrowers like the Rain Frogs and the Purple Frog. I don't know how being spherical helps them in their subterranean life, but it sure is popular!

When the heavy rains finally arrive, Crucifix Frogs emerge from the earth to take advantage of those sweet, sweet puddles. Two really cool things happen...

First, tootsie luring! We've seen before the smooth, sinuous tail movements certain snakes use to attract prey. This time we get to see a frog's fidgety feet attracting insects. It's toe-tapping stuff to the music of their own rumbling belly. I just knew frogs were a bundle of fretful nerves under that motionless exterior!

Secondly, frog glue! Crucifix Frogs have lots of glands on their skin that produce a kind of sticky glue. It may be poisonous or distasteful, which would mean the bright skin colours act as a warning to predators. It also protects that same skin from the bites of ants and termites.

Some researchers managed to acquire enough of the stuff to use on the torn cartilage of a sheep. The glue hardens within seconds and remains sticky even in moist environments. It's also flexible and porous, which is great for the healing process. Remarkable! Miraculous...?

Image: Mr tuba man88
After a good meal, it's time to think of other things. Males float in a nice pool of water and call out to the females, hoping one of them would like to join him for some not-so-skinny dipping. She'll lay her eggs in the water and once they hatch, the tadpoles have just a few weeks to feast on insect larvae and metamorphose into miniature adults.

Under the merciless heat of the sun, the pools soon dry up and the ground bakes. The frogs retreat once again into their cool, subterranean realms deep beneath the surface. They'll stay there for months, possibly even years before the rains beckon them once more.

Who knows, maybe there's a Holy Grail Frog down there?


Thanks to Will for showing me that fantastic tootsie video!


TexWisGirl said...

oh, my goodness, they're adorable! someone needs to make jewelry that looks just like them!

Lear's Fool said...

The moment I saw the video I just knew I'd have to make you write us an article about them!

That's how this works, right?


Porakiya said...

such cuties! just don't mess with their toes XD

Crunchy said...

Looks more like an asterisk to me. Like the footnote of nature reads:

* A Frog

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: I wonder if it could be jewellery with moving toes?

@Lear's Fool: Ha! Allegedly!

@Porakiya Draekojin: The toes take no prisoners!

@Crunchy: Yeah, they're quite variably. Totally appropriate for them to be a footnote, though!

Lear's Fool said...

Either that or you're deviously training me to find you cool critters.




BK said...

I have no idea why I am posting this here but the tigerfish, Sia ferox, false vampire bat, and humboldt squid need to be in this blog.

Joseph JG said...

@Lear's Fool: Ha! My dastardly plans unfurl before my eyes!

@Bk Jeong: Ah, cool! I've already done the Humboldt Squid some years ago now, the rest look interesting.

I should REALLY maintain a proper a list of suggestions.

BK said...

A list of suggestions would be a great idea.