Well it’s time for another issue of Impurest’s Guide to Animals not to mention kick off year two. Last week we celebrated a year of issues by featuring a monster and a ghost, Godzillognmous schrami and the Samurai Crab. This week’s animal get’s itself into a sticky situation but can never be called a ‘Paste of Space’. Hope you guys enjoy.
Issue #58 - Crucifix Toad
Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Chordata
Class – Amphibia
Order – Arauna
Family – Myobatrachidae
Genus – Notaden
Species – bennettii
Related Species - The Crucifix Toad is one of four species in the genus Notaden, the others being the Desert Spadefoot Toad (Notaden nichollosi), Northern Spadefoot Toad (Notaden melanoschaphus) and the Weigel’s Toad (Notaden weigeli) (1)
Paste Pot Puddle Dweller
The Crucifix Toad is a small amphibian, with a length of 6cm, and a width of almost equal size. Despite having warty skin, and being called a ‘toad’, N bennettii is actually a frog and not related to more recognised toads. Unlike other frogs from the genus Notaden, the Crucifix Toad is brightly coloured, with yellow skin and has a highly visible cross shaped marking on its back. Despite these bright colours, the species can be hard to find since they spend most of their time underground, only emerging after heavy periods of rain.
Like all other amphibian species the Crucifix Toad is a carnivore, and the species eats ants, termites and other small invertebrates. The species employs a tactic called ‘Pedal Luring’ where the frog taps its toes to lure prey into striking range (2). Being brightly coloured the Crucifix Toad often attracts predators such as snakes and birds, and defends itself by creating a substance called ‘Frog Glue’ which tastes foul, and defers all but the most determined attackers.
Frog Glue has other uses, since the frogs live in an arid environment; the adhesive can be used to create a water tight cocoon to preserve water. During mating, which occurs after rain, the male will sometimes glue himself onto the larger female, to prevent being knocked off her back. The female lays her eggs in puddles, with the tadpoles hatching, growing and then metamorphosis into adults within six weeks. Such a rapid rate of development is probably due to the temporary nature of the pools they grow up in (3).
Five Fun Crucifix Toad Facts
Crucifix Toads are powerful diggers; typical burrows are about a meter deep
The adhesives created by the Crucifix Toad have one other purpose, to trap ants. When lying dormant, ants often attack the frogs but get stuck in the ‘Frog Glue’ and are trapped until the amphibian sheds its skin, and are then consumed by the frog.
Frog Glue is one of the strongest naturally occurring adhesives, one that out performs most synthetic glues and pastes. As such research into the chemical makeup is being investigated, in the hopes that such a development can create longer lasting surgical adhesives (4)
While competition for food as tadpoles is fierce, one of the Crucifix Toads relatives, the tadpoles of the Fletcher’s Frog (Lechriodus fletcheri) are predominantly cannibalistic.
Another closely related species, the Turtle Frog (Myobatrachus gouldi) takes it one step further, and completely skips the tadpole stage, with the young emerging as full formed miniature adults when they hatch from their eggs.
1 - www.arkive.org
2 - http://australianmuseum.net.au/blogpost/at-the-museum/just-a-little-closer-little-frog-uses-toes-to-attract-prey
3 - http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2008/02/08/2157839.htm
4 - http://inhabitat.com/the-biomimicry-manual-what-can-the-crucifix-toad-teach-us-about-adhesives/
1 - http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JO97gaxFzAM/U2VnA0TxfqI/AAAAAAAAAeA/xmUCYr0rfgk/s1600/Crucifix+Toad+%25288227%2529.jpg
2 - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/Notaden_bennettii_distrib.PNG
3 - http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5095/5517225772_cf85457980.jpg
4 - http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Ask+an+Expert/Question+of+the+month/Question+Archive/Questions/2014/~/media/Images/Find%20out%20about/Ask%20an%20expert/Question%20of%20the%20month/2014/August/crucifix-frog-3.jpg?w=300&h=199&as=1
And as we walk away we fail to notice the Crucifix Toad stuck to out boot. Next week we conclude our gooey trio with an ‘interesting’ looking creature. But until then critic, comment and check out past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.