Rare Frog Deposits Eggs in Bamboo

Posted on October 28, 2014

Scientists have discovered that a rare frog in South India's Western Ghats deposits its eggs in live bamboo with narrow openings. Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) say this is a newly discovered reproductive mode for frogs and toads. It is the 41st known reproductive mode for frogs and toads.

The white spotted bush frog (Raorchestes chalazodes) deposits eggs in live bamboo with narrow slits. Adult male frogs enter the narrow slits and call for mates. Female frogs arrive and deposit the eggs. They lay about 5 to 8 eggs in the bamboo. The eggs hatch directly into froglets. There is no tadpole phase. The male frog sticks around to provide parental care.

The frogs are less than 25 millimetres in length. They squeeze themselves into very narrow openings in the bamboo that are only about 5 to 10 millimeters long and 3 to 4 millimeters wide. The male frogs do leave the eggs at night briefly to feed but return to look after the eggs. R. chalazodes is a critically endangered frog that was thought to be extinct until it was recently found in the wet evergreen forests of the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats.

The frogs' reproductive mode was discovered by Mr. Seshadri K S, a PhD student, and David Bickford, an associate professor from the Department of Biological Sciences at NUS.

Professor Pickford says in a statement, "This is a significant discovery in two ways. First, it reiterates that natural history observations, often ignored, are fundamental for understanding evolutionary ecology. Second, it sets a theoretical foundation to ask several interesting questions about the diversity of reproductive modes and the evolutionary pathways behind such amazing amphibian behaviors."

The image below shows a male R. chalazodes squeezing itself into a hollow internode in the bamboo.

A research paper on the bamboo reproductive mode was published here in The Linnean Society of London's Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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