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Impurest's Guide to Animals #24 - Paradox Frog

Back again from another week of bat surveys with another paradoxical issue of Impurest’s Guide to Animals. Last week Lazarus himself (AKA the Lord Howe Stick Insect) was in the spotlight and highlighted the plight of endangered insects. This week’s creature is very different and potentially even odder then anything seen before. Hope you enjoy

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Issue #23 - Paradox Frog

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Amphibia

Order – Anura

Family – Hylidae

Genus – Pseudis

Species – paradoxa

Related Species - The Paradox Frog is a member of the Hylidae or Tree Frog family (1)

Range - The Paradox Frog is found across tropical and sub tropical South America, East of the Andes Mountain range

Mini Mum, Big Baby

The adult Paradox Frog is a fairly ordinary green frog that grows to around 7cm in length. It is found in or near pools and other permanent sources of water, and like other frogs its size feeds primarily on insects and other invertebrates that it is able to overpower. In fact the Paradox Frog, despite being related to tree frogs, is more adapted to an aquatic life and is rarely seen far from water. Breeding occurs in water, with the male fertilizing the female’s eggs before both parents leave to allow the tadpoles to develop and later hatch,

[2]
[2]

On hatching the tadpoles grow constantly over the first four months of their lives until they reach around twenty centimetres in length (2). To put this into context the tadpoles of the Goliath Frog (Conruna goliath), the largest extant frog in the world, from West Africa has tadpoles that only grow to about 8cm before maturing into adults. Like the adults the tadpoles are carnivorous and feed on other amphibians, fish and invertebrates, and will even turn to cannibalism if they exhaust their other food sources.

Image showing the size comparison between the adult and larval Paradox Frog [3]
Image showing the size comparison between the adult and larval Paradox Frog [3]

Eventually however the tadpoles being to grow limbs, the tail (which makes up most of the body length) shrinks and the froglets haul themselves onto the shore to live life as adults. While not endangered the Paradox Frog is an important medicinal species due to its production of the chemical Pseudin, the trigger enzyme for the production of Insulin. Currently the United Arab Emirates and the University of Ulster are running a joint project to create a synthetic version to manage and even eradicate Type-2 Diabetes (3).

Ecology 101 - A brief guide to Environmental Mechanics #2

Some time ago @steelofvalyria asked something along these lines: It would be cool if you wrote about some of those frogs/toads affected by Chytrid Fungus

Chytrid fungi are among the most primitive members of the Fungus Kingdom and comprise of almost 1000 members, all of whom live in wet environments. The majority of Chytrid fungus is harmless, and some are even beneficial to amphibians, producing anti-bacterial agents that boost the host’s immune system. The most infamous member however; Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (also known as Bd), is an aggressive parasite that is decimating amphibian populations. Many toxicologists believe Bd to be among the most destructive vertebrate pathogens known to man due to it’s high mortality rate.

Bd under a microscope [4]
Bd under a microscope [4]

Bd effects almost 6000 amphibian species, growing on their skin and creating a thick layer of keratin that prevents gas and water transfer. In effect the fungus smothers its host to death before consuming the amphibian’s lifeless corpse and producing the next generation of spores. These spores when released swim through water looking for a host but can lay dormant waiting to be transferred to new amphibian populations. While most amphibians have no defence against Bd, three of the most invasive species; American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis) and Cane Toad (Bufo marinus), are known to be resistant to the main strain and are therefore vectors, transferring the immature spores to new ponds.

Bd is already well spread, being particularly strong in Far East Asia, Central America and the Western United Stated, although populations are found throughout the world. Adult Bd can be treated through a course of systemic fungicides, although these poisons can harm the amphibian host or through the implication of benign Chytrid fungus strands, which naturally kill off the invasive Bd strand but cause no known damage to the host.

Despite both methods being effective, and the work of ecologists and conservationists Bd is continuing to spread and is a real threat to global amphibian populations. It’s theorised that a third of all amphibian species could be at risk of extinction due to multiple environmental factors, including Bd. Whether humanity can save these species is unknown; only time will tell what (if any) scientific breakthroughs are made to combat this veracious pathogen. (4)

Bibliography

1 - www.arkive.org

2 - Emerson, S. B. (1988). "The giant tadpole of Pseudis paradoxa". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 34 (2): 93–104

3 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7270714.stm

4 - http://www.amphibianark.org/the-crisis/chytrid-fungus/

Picture References

1 - https://aark.portal.isis.org/Amphibian%20photos/Pseudis%20paradoxa,%20Paradox%20Frog,%20C%C3%A9sar%20Barrio-Amor%C3%B3s%20cortes%C3%ADa%20Fundaci%C3%B3n%20And%C3%ADgenA.jpg

2 - http://bizarreweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/tadpole.jpg

3 - http://www.itsnature.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/frog_pseudis_paradoxa.jpg

4 - http://wonkonthewildlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/chytrid.jpg

Thanks for reading guys; I hope you enjoyed the perplexing Paradox Frog. Make sure to drop me a comment and suggest an animal to be covered in future issues, and as usual you can check out past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

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