Rare Fanged Frog Gives Birth To Tadpoles

A new species of fanged frog was observed giving birth to live tadpoles. The frogs are unique, as they are the only known species to have internal fertilization and give birth to tadpoles. The unusual frogs were discovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi by scientists with the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Jim McGuire was the first to witness a fanged frog giving birth to live tadpoles. As reported by BBC, McGuire was holding a frog in the palm of his hand when it spontaneously released “a clutch of brand new tadpoles.” McGuire, who initially assumed the frog was male, was stunned.

Worldwide, there are 6,455 known species of frogs. However, fewer than 12 species are capable of internal fertilization. Frogs that are known to have internal fertilization generally deposit the eggs or give birth to fully developed froglets.

Although internal fertilization is rare, frog species often have interesting reproductive rituals. The Surinam toad, for example, gives birth through tiny pockets in its skin.

As reported by Wired, the female Pipa pipa absorbs their eggs into the skin on their back. When the froglets are fully developed, they “erupt” from the skin in an unusual and interesting display.

The new species of fanged frog is the only known species to actually give birth to tadpoles.

Although some frog species are capable of internal fertilization, scientists are unsure how it happens. In his study, which was published in PLOS, McGuire explains that “there is no obvious intromittent organ present to facilitate sperm transfer.”

Zoological Society of London herpetology expert Ben Tapley said the discovery was completely unexpected and “totally out of the blue.” Tapley said fanged frogs are generally “relatively dull frogs.”

He said it is “not that rare” to discover a new species of frog. However, “actually discovering a new reproductive mode” is exciting.

Unfortunately, the fanged frogs, and many others, are in danger of losing their habitat. Tapley explains that Sulawesi “has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world.”

This is specifically troubling for the new fanged frogs, which rely on the forest for shelter. As discussed in McGuire’s study, the unique frogs spend most of their lives among leaves on the forest floor. Tapley said the unique frogs are at great risk, because a large portion of Sulawesi forest is already gone.

McGuire said the fanged frog likely evolved to give birth to tadpoles. Following their birth, the mother and father both protect the tadpoles until they develop into self-sufficient froglets.

[Image via NBC News]

Share this article: Rare Fanged Frog Gives Birth To Tadpoles
More from Inquisitr