New frog species discovery in Indonesia

This video says about itself:

Borneo Eared Frog or Bony Headed Flying Frog – Polypedates otilophus

30 January 2014

This interesting frog species can be found in Borneo, Sumatra and other Indonesian islands. Read more about various frog species here. This frog has interesting shaped legs which give it the ability to glide. The flying frog of Borneo also has bony protrusions behind its eyes which give it the appearance of having ears. It is also sometimes called the File-eared tree frog. In this video I show a few different frogs. This was taken at a chorus of colors exhibit.

From ScienceDaily:

Life in the fast flow: Tadpoles of new species rely on ‘suction cups’ to keep up

The frogs living in the rainforest of Sumatra also represent a new genus

March 12, 2018

Summary: The young of two new species and a genus of frog found to inhabit Sumatra’s rainforests have developed a unique ability to latch onto rocks in the fast-flowing rivers, using bellies crafted by evolution into ‘suction cups’. Herpetologists use their remarkable discovery to highlight the unique biodiversity of the island, which is under imminent threat due to rampant habitat modification and deforestation.

Indonesia, a megadiverse country spanning over 17,000 islands located between Australia and mainland Asia, is home to more than 16% of the world’s known amphibian and reptile species, with almost half of the amphibians found nowhere else in the world. Unsurprisingly, biodiversity scientists have been feverishly discovering and describing fascinating new animals from the exotic island in recent years.

Such is the case of an international team from the University of Hamburg, Germany, University of Texas at Arlington, USA, University of Bern, Switzerland and Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia, who came across a curious tadpole while collecting amphibian larvae from fast-flowing streams as part of an arduous expedition in the remote forests on the island of Sumatra.

To the amazement of the scientists, it turned out that the tadpoles possess a peculiar cup-like structure on their bellies, in addition to the regular oral disk found in typical tadpoles. As a result, the team described two new species and a genus in the open access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution. A previously known, but misplaced in an unsuitable genus, frog was also added to the group, after it was proved that it takes advantage of the same modification.

“This phenomenon where tadpoles display ‘belly suckers’ is known as gastromyzophory and, albeit not unheard of, is a rare adaptation that is only found in certain toads in the Americas and frogs in Asia”, explains lead author Umilaela Arifin.

The abdominal sucker, it is hypothesized, helps these tadpoles to exploit a very special niche — fast-flowing streams — where the water would otherwise be too turbulent and rapid to hang around. Gastromyzophorous species, however, rely on the suction provided by their modified bellies to secure an exclusive access to plentiful food, such as algae, while the less adapted are simply washed away.

When the scientists took a closer look at the peculiar tadpoles and their adult forms, using a powerful combination of molecular and morphological data, they realized that they had not only stumbled upon a rare amphibian trait, but had also discovered two brand new species of frogs in the process.

Moreover, the animals turned out so distinct in their evolutionary makeup, compared to all other frogs, that the scientists had to create a whole new genus to accommodate them. Formally named Sumaterana, the genus is to be commonly referred to as Sumatran Cascade Frogs.

“We decided to call the new genus Sumaterana after Sumatra, to reflect the fact that these new species, with their rare evolutionary adaptation are endemic to Sumatra’s rainforests and, in a sense, are emblematic of the exceptional diversity of animals and plants on the island,” says co-author Dr. Utpal Smart. “Tragically, all of them are in peril today, given the current rate of deforestation.”

The authors agree that much more taxonomic work is still needed to determine and describe Sumatra’s herpetofaunal diversity, some of which they fear, could be irreversibly lost well before biologists have the chance to discover it.


Pond wildlife discovered by British children

This video from Britain says about itself:

Explore a watery world with pond dipping

23 February 2018

Summer is a great time to go exploring, and whether you’re by the sea, a pond or any other water, it’s also a great time to learn more about underwater nature first hand.

Make sure you stay safe however you choose to explore.

The video features frogs, newts and insects.

Brazilian caecilian amphibian, new study

This February 2017 video, recorded in Costa Rica, says about itself:

On this episode of Breaking Trail, Coyote discovers the most bizarre creature he’s ever found, a Caecilian! Wait a what?! A Caecilian, while at first glance looks exactly like a giant earthworm, is actually an amphibian more closely related to salamanders. It’s definitely NOT a worm.

These subterranean crawlies live in the loose soils and substrate all over the world. They are very elusive and almost never seen by humans, so even though the rain forced the camera crew to take shelter Coyote just had to share this amazing encounter with the Coyote Pack! Get ready to see one of the rarest creatures we will ever show you! HUGE THANKS to Brian Kubicki for the epic drone footage and for hosting the crew at this location! To visit his amazing amphibian reserve check out his website for details.

From Utah State University in the USA:

Playing both ends: Amphibian adapted to varied evolutionary pressures

February 23, 2018

Summary: Caecilian, Siphonops annulatus, a limbless amphibian found throughout Brazil, has a concentration of enlarged mucous glands in its head region and a concentration of enlarged poison glands in its posterior region. These concentration appear to have evolved from different selective pressures: the ability to tunnel into the ground and to defend oneself from predators.

Caecilians are serpent-like creatures, but they’re not snakes or giant worms. The limbless amphibians, related to frogs and salamanders, favor tropical climates of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Most live in burrows of their own making; some are aquatic.

With colleagues from Brazil, Utah State University ecologist Edmund “Butch” Brodie, Jr. reports caecilians feature greatly enlarged poison glands at each end of their bodies, which appear to have evolved from different selective pressures — the ability to tunnel into the ground and to defend oneself from predators.

Brodie, along with Carlos Jared, Pedro Luiz Mailho-Fontana, Rafael Marques-Porto, Juliana Mozer Sciani, Daniel Carvalho Pimenta, and Marta Maria Antoniazzi of São Paulo’s Butantan Institute, published findings in the Feb. 23, 2018, issue of Scientific Reports.

The team’s research, supported by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, focuses on Siphonops annulatus, a caecilian species found throughout Brazil.

“My Brazilian colleagues noticed the burrows made by this species were lined with a shiny, slick substance”, says Brodie, professor in USU’s Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center. “We didn’t think it was a secretion from the poison glands, so we decided to investigate.”

The Brazilian caecilian, grayish in color and measuring about 18 inches in length, is a surprisingly rapid burrower, he says.

“When caecilians burrow, they force their snouts into the ground and essentially dive into the soil,” Brodie says.

As suspected, the team discovered all the skin glands in the serpentine creatures’ head region were greatly enlarged, tightly packed mucous glands — not poison ones. The slippery lubrication enables the caecilians’ rapid, subterranean escape from predators, especially coral snakes.

“We know of no other amphibian with this high concentration of mucous glands”. Brodie says. “In other terrestrial amphibians, mucous is mainly related to the uptake of oxygen. Here, in caecilians, it’s obviously used in locomotion.”

Examination of the caecilians revealed further information. The mucous glands extend throughout the amphibians’ body, in gradually reduced concentration, and give way to poison glands concentrated in the tail.

“The poison glands, resulting from a different selective pressure, provide another defense from predators”, Brodie says. “In addition to chemical defense, the tail acts as a ‘plug’, blocking the tunnel and further deterring predators.”

The eccentric amphibian, Brodie and colleagues write, is “really a box of surprises.”


Carboniferous-Permian plant extinction harmed amphibians, helped reptiles

This video says about itself:

30 March 2015

Dave and Palaeo After Dark’s James explore the Carboniferous forests in the ‘Carboniferous Forest Simulator‘!

This fantastic software is free for educational, museum or personal use. We really need to get our full support behind this project!

The programme, in its ‘alpha testing’ stage can be downloaded here.

Details of the development of the project can be found here.

From the University of Birmingham in England:

Rainforest collapse 307 million years ago impacted the evolution of early land vertebrates

February 7, 2018

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have discovered that the mass extinction seen in plant species caused by the onset of a drier climate 307 million years ago led to extinctions of some groups of tetrapods, the first vertebrates to live on land, but allowed others to expand across the globe. This research is published today (7th February 2018) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The Carboniferous and Permian periods (358 — 272 million years ago) were critical intervals in the evolution of life on land. During the Carboniferous Period North America and Europe lay in a single land mass at the equator which was covered by dense tropical rainforests. These rainforests flourished because of the warm humid climate, providing an ideal habitat for early tetrapods (vertebrates with four limbs), allowing them to diversify into a variety of species.

But towards the end of this period a major global environment change took place — just as the number of tetrapod species began to increase, the rainforests started to disappear. The climate became much drier causing the mass extinction of many species within the dominant plant groups, such as horsetails and club mosses. Despite this being a catastrophic event for plants, it has been unclear how this affected the early tetrapod community.

Previous attempts to estimate the diversity changes during this period have been hindered by the fossil record, which has not been sampled equally in different time intervals or geographic areas. To fill these gaps in the data, the Birmingham researchers compiled a new dataset from the Paleobiology Database and used advanced statistical methods to estimate diversity and biogeographic changes.

The results of the study show that tetrapod diversity decreased after the rainforest collapse and the onset of drier conditions, largely due to the reduction in suitable habitats for amphibians which needed wet environments to survive.

However they also found that after the rainforest collapse surviving tetrapod species began to disperse more freely across the globe, colonising new habitats further from the equator. Many of these survivors were early amniotes, such as early reptiles, whose generally larger size relative to early amphibians allowed them to travel longer distances, and their ability to lay eggs meant they were not confined to watery habitats.

Emma Dunne, from the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: ‘This is the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken on early tetrapod evolution, and uses many newly developed techniques for estimating diversity patterns of species from fossil records, allowing us greater insights into how early tetrapods responded to the changes in their environment.’

Dunne continued: ‘We now know that the rainiforest collapse was crucial in paving the way for amniotes, the group which ultimately gave rise to modern mammals, reptiles and birds, to become the dominant group of land vertebrates during the Permian period and beyond.’


Harlequin frogs freed in Panama

This video says about itself:

Hundreds of Tiny Frogs Released on a Mission to Save Their Species | National Geographic

22 January 2018

Scientists released hundreds of harlequin frogs into the wilds of Panama in hopes of collecting valuable data.

We hope these harlequin frogs in Panama are able to create safe, fungus-free areas and revive their species!


Frogs and Dutch song music video

This 25 December 2017 video is about frog species living in the Netherlands. Mainly edible frogs; also a tree frog and an European toad.

The piano music in this video is the tune of the old Dutch children’s song Er zaten zeven kikkertjes al in een boerensloot (There were seven little frogs in a farmer’s ditch). The ditch in the song is frozen, the frogs half dead.

According to Dutch Wikipedia, the song is from 1843.

However, it may be even older. I remember a version of the song with as final lines:

En er kwam een vent uit Pruisen
met honderdduizend man.
Die nam de zeven kikkertjes
en braadde ze in de pan.


A guy from Prussia came
with a hundred thousand men.
He took the seven little frogs
and fried them in the pan.

This may mean that the song is from shortly after 1787. Then, the king of Prussia had one of his generals invade the Dutch republic. Not with 100,000 soldiers; with 26,000 soldiers, but it was enough for victory. The aim of the Prussian invasion was to restore the power of Prince William V of the Orange dynasty, who had been driven away from the capital The Hague by the republican Patriot party.

The song may have been meant originally by the pro-Orange dynasty party to mock their Patriot opponents as powerless frogs.


South American amphibian saving human lives?

This February 2017 video, recorded in Costa Rica, is about wildlife, especially the Caecilia volcani species of caecilian amphibians.

From the University of Surrey in England:

A South American amphibian could potentially hold the key to curing cirrhosis

December 6, 2017

The unique liver function of a South American amphibian, Siphonops annulatus, could pave the way to finding a cure to the devastating liver condition cirrhosis, a new study published in the Journal of Anatomy reports.

Researchers from the University of Surrey (UK), the Federal University of São Paulo and the Butantan Institute in Brazil used an innovative 3D liver cell examination to explore the liver function of this snake-like amphibian. During an in-depth examination, it was found that the liver of Siphonops annulatus produces blood cells throughout its lifetime and breaks down the protein collagen.

According to Dr Robson Gutierre, a morphologist and leading author of this study, the South American amphibian has very unique liver cells, known as melanomacrophages, which can remove and break down collagen as part of its natural function. In the same species, melanomacrophages also naturally engulf basophils, helping to minimise unwanted inflammation and reduce the scar tissue which can lead to cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis occurs in response to damage to the liver. Chronic alcoholism, hepatitis or other harmful substances can promote the response of self-repair in the liver, mainly represented as a high production of collagen and scar formation (fibrosis). As cirrhosis progresses, liver functions such as detoxification and cleaning of blood, among others, become difficult.

Several treatment strategies for cirrhosis have been tried throughout the world, such as delaying or removing the underlying stimulus that causes scars to form. Other treatments have looked at the degradation and/or removal of collagen.

Co-author Dr Augusto Coppi, lecturer in Veterinary Anatomy and Stereologist at the University of Surrey, said: “The liver function of this amphibian, Siphonops annulatus, may provide us with a unique opportunity to solve one of the most devastating illnesses of the liver.

“We do need further in-depth investigations into how this discovery could be translated into humans, but it may have the potential to alter how we view and treat this disease. We are constantly amazed by nature, and this particular and not-well-studied species of amphibian could help us find a way to stop or even reverse liver cirrhosis.”

Dr Robson Gutierre from the Federal University of São Paulo said: “The ability this species has to break down its natural defences could also provide insight into immunity tolerance, a mechanism by which the liver can minimise unwanted inflammations. Immunity tolerance can be studied in this species because they produce pro-inflammatory cells in the hematopoietic liver throughout its whole life, without developing chronic inflammations.”

Liver cirrhosis must be diagnosed early and the cause treated, but damage is rarely reversed. In the late stages, cirrhosis is life threatening. Every year more than 4,000 people in the UK die from cirrhosis and an estimated 700 people have to have a liver transplant each year to survive.

Researchers will continue to explore how this could be translated into humans.