- The Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa): These flat, mottled brown toads aren’t just unusual due to the absence of teeth and tongue, they also have a quite remarkable reproductive strategies. Rather than the typical croaky sounds of other toad species, the male Surinam instead produces a sharp clicking sound by snapping the hyoid bone in his throat. During mating, the female releases 3–10 eggs, which get embedded in the skin on her back by the male’s movements. After implantation the eggs sink into the skin and form pockets over a period of several days, eventually taking on the appearance of an irregular honeycomb. The larvae develop through to the tadpole stage inside these pockets, eventually emerging from the mother’s back as fully developed toads, though they are less than an inch long (2 cm). Once they have emerged from their mother’s back, the toads begin a largely solitary life. Wondrously wacky and bemusedly bleugh!…
- Chile Darwin’s Frog (Rhinoderma rufum): This species of frog exhibits a highly unusual form of parental care in that the tadpoles spend part of their life developing in the vocal sac of their father, where they ‘hitch a ride’ to a pool of water in their father’s vocal sac where they complete their development from the tadpole to the frog form.
Very little is known about this species and it is currently considered critically endangered, but as there have been no confirmed records since around 1980, it may already be extinct. (Indeed, no photographs of the species exist so the pic shown here is actually of the related Darwin’s Frog and is shown for illustrative purposes only. So nyeh…)
- The Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum): This endangered lungless salamander can only be found living in the habitat of Barton Springs in Austin, Texas, USA. It’s still unclear how this animal derives it’s oxygen supplies from the water, but no doubt those pretty frilly gills sticking out on either side of it’s head have something to do with it. Owing to it’s limited distribution within a sensitive habitat, this little guy is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
- The Tomato Frog (Dyscophus antongilii): Endemic to Madagascar, the Tomato Frog derives it’s name from it’s vibrant orange-red colour. Females are much larger than males and have brighter tones of red or orange on their back, with a pale undersurface. Some individuals also have black spots on the throat. It is thought that the brilliant colours of the tomato frog act as a warning to potential predators that these frogs are toxic; a white substance secreted from the skin acts as a glue to deter predators (such as colubrid snakes) and can produce an allergic reaction in humans.
- The “Penis Snake” (Atretochoana eiselti): Okay, so while not a snake, nor a penis, this species has been dubbed so on account of it’s resemblance to, er, well, both of these things. Until it’s most recent re-discovery in 2011 in the Madeira River in Brazil, this phallic perturbation was only known to science via two preserved museum specimens. Encounters with A. eiselti are so uncommon that very little information on the species exists. It is therefore listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “Data Deficient”. To read more on this slithery serpentine see here.
- The Mexican Burrowing Toad (Rhinophrynus dorsalis): The Mexican Burrowing Toad is, as the name suggests, a burrowing animal (fossorial), that spends a large part of its life underground. Unique among the frogs, the Mexican Burrowing Toad’s tongue is projected directly out the front of the mouth, instead of being flipped out, as in all other frogs. (I’m sure that’s real cute when he’s little but when he growed up, well that’s just gonna look silly now ain’t it…)
- The Mountain Climbing Frog (Anodonthyla montana): A species of frog endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, and rocky areas. Not much else seems to be known about this apparent Gabe Walker of the froggy world, but it is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
- The Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus): Called slimy because it is capable of excreting a sticky glue-like substance from its skin, this salamander is typically overall black in color, with numerous silvery spots or gold spots across its back. Though considered neither threatened nor endangered, this slimer is however found to be vulnerable to parasitism by some nematode worms, particularly when guarding an egg clutch, due to poor nutrition. The small activity range of the species also makes it a victim of predation by a number of snakes that occur within it’s geographical range.
So there you go. Eight amphibians worth singing about. And within them some worth worrying about, some worth finding more out about and some worth, well, throwing up about (yes you…you know who you are, Pipa pipa and Atretochoana eiselti! Bleughs!…)
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