Weird Wednesdays: Four fabulously freaky frogs

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Frogs and toads are nearly ubiquitous little amphibians, being found anywhere that isn’t covered in meters-thick layers of ice. Though most species are dependent on water in some capacity to live in and survive, these critters have adapted to survive some incredibly challenging environments and situations.(Jon Wiley/Flickr Creative Commons)

Frogs and toads are nearly ubiquitous little amphibians, being found anywhere that isn’t covered in meters-thick layers of ice. Though most species are dependent on water in some capacity to live in and survive, these critters have adapted to survive some incredibly challenging environments and situations.(Jon Wiley/Flickr Creative Commons)

If you’ve been anywhere near a marshy area, then you’ve most likely heard them: New England spring peepers, Pseudacris crucifer, singing their little hearts out in order to initiate some sweet frog hookups.

Frogs and toads are nearly ubiquitous little amphibians, being found anywhere that isn’t covered in meters-thick layers of ice (Looking at you, Antarctica!). Though most species are dependent on water in some capacity to live in and survive, these critters have adapted to survive some incredibly challenging environments and situations. Evolution being what it is, some of these adaptations are… creative, so to speak. So, here are four of the weirdest frogs (and toads) you can find in the wild.

1. The “Steve Rogers” frogs

These little fellas got waaaaay too into watching “Captain America,” “Demolition Man” and “Futurama.” I mean, yeah, it’s easy to freeze a creature solid. It’s thawing out without rupturing each and every one of your cells that’s the issue.

About five species of frogs can pull a Mr. Freeze, including our friends the spring peppers, Cope’s grey tree frog and western chorus frogs. In the winter, when they bury themselves under leaf mold and mud, they can withstand up to 70 percent of their body’s water being frozen, their heart barely beating all throughout. Key to their transformation is the fact that they basically turn their blood to antifreeze, dumping sugars and water into their body cavity. This slushy mix has a much lower freezing point than water, and the water outside of the cells means that there’s less chance of rupture. When the weather warms, their hearts start beating once again as they thaw, and they hop away unharmed.

2. The “WTF, Mother Nature?!?” toads

Man, isn’t pregnancy a drag? The swollen feet, the morning sickness, the weird cravings, the dozens of hatchings embedded in your back struggling to emerge from the embedded pockets in the skin of your back…

Yeah, Surinam toads are freaky as hell. Ya know, you’d think that after the male Surinam fertilizes the female’s eggs, he’d just swim off and she’d swim off and they’d call it a day like the cold-hearted amphibians they are, right? But noooooo. Instead, the male pats her on the back—and by pat on the back, I mean he pushes the eggs into her back so that her skin envelopes and grows over them, leaving them to develop, protected by predators, in her toady flesh. Three to four months later, the beasties hatch, dig their way out of their mum and swim away, leaving ma to shed her skin and regret her one-night stand.

3. The “Weapon X” frogs

I’m not gonna mince words. The hairy frog (so named because of the vascularized threads the males produce during the mating season, because what the hell Mother Nature) will, when under duress, break its own goddamn bones and use them as weapons against predators. They’re spiky and cat-claw like, and the frogs use their own muscle force to snap the bone into a sharp point and push them through their skin. No wonder it’s also called the “horror frog” and the “Wolverine frog.”

4. The “Northwest Dining Hall chicken” frogs

You know how it goes. You eat something funky that sends your insides churning. A wave of nausea passes over you, and—hhrrk!— you vomit up your stomach instinctively.

Bullfrogs and other large frog species have no need for the poison control hotline— or Pepto-Bismol, for that matter– because of their ability to clean out the contents of its stomach by turning it inside out. When the frog ingests something nasty (typically a poisonous or harmful insect), it’ll heave its guts out of its esophagus, clean it off with their right foot, re-swallow their stomach and hop away all the merrier .

Amphibians are truly excellent creatures. Whether it’s giving birth in the most horrifying way possible, defending yourself in the most horrifying way possible or just plain chilling in a pond, you should appreciate some of the ridiculous things that occur when evolutionary pressure is applied. Stay froggy, stay weird.


Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.

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