General, Research, Technology

Why do frogs have such a strange skull shape?

It may seem that all the frogs lookequally - these are not particularly pleasant-looking creatures with a large head, a wide body and long hind legs. But in fact they are very different from each other in the structure of the head. For example, the skulls of some of them are covered with thorns and various irregularities, the purpose of which scientists could not understand for a long time. But recently, American researchers decided to compare the skeletons of 158 species of frogs and finally found the answer to a question of interest. As it turned out, the different structure of the skull helps these amphibians to hunt prey and defend themselves from predators. And right to eat and not give offense, you believe us, frogs can.

Skulls of frogs do not look like skulls of other animals

The results of a study conducted by scientists fromThe Florida Museum of Natural History has been published in the scientific journal SciTechDaily. Studying the skeletons of different types of frogs, the researchers were convinced that the skulls of most of them are indeed covered with a complex network of thorns, growths and other irregularities. It is noteworthy that in species with the same diet and protective reactions, the shape of the irregularities had common features. Based on this, scientists concluded that the shape of the skulls of frogs varies due to the fact that these amphibians are scattered across almost all corners of the planet and have different food preferences. In addition, different species of frogs have their own, individual enemies, for each of which amphibians are forced to apply different protective measures.

It looks like a skull of a tree frog (Anotheca spinosa)

What do frogs eat?

According to study author Daniel Paluch,the strangest skull designs are found in frogs that feed on mammals and birds. For example, the so-called bull frog (Rana catesbeiana) has the ability to eat rodents. It lives in fresh water bodies of the central and southeastern part of North America and can grow up to 25 centimeters. Their diet includes insects, spiders, fish and even mice, for which they need large mouths and powerful jaws to eat.

Frog skulls come in all shapes and sizes.

According to the researchers, irregularities in the skullbull frogs and their relatives help them bite their victims as much as possible. Also, the special arrangement of the bones allows them to open their mouths wide to swallow mammals. In 2010, Dan Garrick, working in one of the zoos in England, captured the moment when the bullfrog almost completely swallowed the little mouse. According to him, the giant frog did not run after the prey, but simply grabbed it with its tongue and pushed it into its mouth. There are many teeth in the oral cavity of this frog species, so the death of the mouse was clearly painful.

A bull frog eats a mouse

The most poisonous frog

Irregularities on the skull of frogs are also needed forprotection against predators. When one of the natural enemies of the frogs bites their head, the spikes located on their skulls can pierce the glands with poison under the skin. Not all frogs possess poisonous properties, but the so-called terrible leaf-climber (Phyllobates terribilis) has sources of poison. Killer substance called batrachotoxin and, entering the blood of animals or humans, can cause cardiac arrest. There is still no effective antidote against this substance.

Some tribes coat the arrows with the poison of a terrible leaf climber

Did you know that not only snakes and frogs, but also animals similar to monkeys are poisonous?

So why do frogs have such a strange shapeskulls not like skulls of other animals? Based on all of the above, it turns out that the habitat and lifestyle strongly influence the shape of the head of these animals. Previously, scientists believed that the strange design of the head allows them to accumulate water inside the skull and survive in arid conditions. Perhaps some species of frogs are capable of such a thing, but for most of them, bizarre skull shapes help not to remain hungry and defend themselves from enemies.

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Finally, I want to tell you that inIn 2019, Australian scientists created the FrogPhone, a mobile phone for frogs. The news may seem very strange, but in fact, thanks to this invention, researchers can save nature from extinction. Read more about the "frog phone" in our material.