Bizarre extinct frog brought back to life (sort of)

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Imagine a frog that can swallow its eggs, brood its young in its stomach and give birth through its mouth.

The gastric brooding frog existed 30 years ago, but the extraordinary amphibian is now extinct.

In a world first, a team of Australian scientists has taken the first major step in bringing it back to life.

They have successfully reactivated its DNA and produced an embryo.

Audio:
Will the gastric brooding frog come back from the dead?
(AM)

Professor Mike Archer from the University of
New South Wales is part of the team, which also includes researchers
from the University of Newcastle.

He says the amphibian was no ordinary frog.

“In
the stomach these eggs went on to develop into tadpoles and the
tadpoles then went on to develop into little frogs,” he told ABC radio’s
AM program.

“And like any pregnant mum, when you have little
babies rattling away in your stomach saying, ‘let me out’, she would
then open her mouth and out would pop little frogs.

Written By: Sarah Clarke
continue to source article at abc.net.au

12 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder will they bring the frog back before the rest of the species is gone?
    I’m in favour of bringing animals back that humans put extinct, but id rather try save the species that are endangered beforehand. Despite the amazing problem solving ideas this amphibian came up with to pass on its DNA it had no solution for the human threat.

    • In reply to #1 by Dublin-atheist:

      I wonder will they bring the frog back before the rest of the species is gone?

      The species is gone. That’s what extinct means.

      (Or did you mean “specimens”? Yeah, it would be tragic if the tissue samples run out.)

      I’m in favour of bringing animals back that humans put extinct, but id rather try save the species that are endangered beforehand. Despite the amazing problem solving ideas this amphibian came up with to pass on its DNA it had no solution for the human threat.

      The problem being, we’d barely realised this unique species was even there, let alone endangered, and before we turned around, it was gone. Got to wonder how many others have vanished unnoticed.

      • In reply to #6 by Greyman:

        In reply to #1 by Dublin-atheist:

        I wonder will they bring the frog back before the rest of the species is gone?

        The species is gone. That’s what extinct means.

        (Or did you mean “specimens”? Yeah, it would be tragic if the tissue samples run out.)

        I think it was referring to the potential extinction of numerous, or even all species of frog. They are being decimated world-wide by attacks from an invasive fungus, which is being spread around by the carelessness of humans.

  2. Very cool and all that, but seeing as we lack frogs to brood the embryos I imagine this will be very difficult. Will it not be easier to do this with species that reproduce in a more conventional fashion?

  3. In reply to #1 by Dublin-atheist:

    I’m in favour of bringing animals back that humans put extinct, but id rather try save the species that are endangered beforehand.

    Why stick to species that humans have wiped out? I’d like to resurrect a dinosaur. Also, I don’t think it’s an either or question. We don’t have time machines and therefore cannot prevent extinctions which have already occurred.

    • In reply to #4 by Peter Grant:

      In reply to #1 by Dublin-atheist:

      I’m in favour of bringing animals back that humans put extinct, but id rather try save the species that are endangered beforehand.

      Why stick to species that humans have wiped out? I’d like to resurrect a dinosaur. Also, I don’t think it’s an either or question. We don’t have time machines and therefore cannot prevent extinctions which have already occurred.

      It’s because these scientists all watched Jurassic Park, think of themselves as kind of like gods, and have decided to do the Spider-man-like thing of not misusing their abilities. Or someone on the panel that decides if they get funding feels that mankind should not try to play god or interfere with his plan. Unlikely? Unlikely.

  4. Frogs vary from laying eggs in pools and abandoning them, to taking various forms of parental care. Some even give live birth to tadpoles or fully developed frogs.

    A few species of frogs give birth to live young. Members of the African genus Nectophrynoides retain eggs in the oviduct and some nourish the young as they grow. These are born as miniatures of the adult. One Puerto Rican species of the genus Eleutherodactylus, now thought to be extinct (E. jasperi), also retained eggs in the oviduct and had live birth. http://www.amphibiaweb.org/amphibian/facts.html

    The forms of parental care in frogs (and toads) can be quite diverse!

    Parental care

    Although care of offspring is poorly understood in frogs, up to an estimated 20% of amphibian species may care for their young in some way.[126] The evolution of parental care in frogs is driven primarily by the size of the water body in which they breed.

    Those that breed in smaller water bodies tend to have greater and more complex parental care behaviour.[127] Because predation of eggs and larvae is high in large water bodies, a number of frog species started to lay their eggs on land. Once this happened, the desiccating terrestrial environment demands that one or both parents keep them moist to ensure their survival.[128] The subsequent need to transport hatched tadpoles to a water body required an even more intense form of parental care.[127]

    In small pools, predators are mostly absent and competition between tadpoles becomes the variable that constrains their survival. Certain frog species avoid this competition by making use of smaller phytotelmata (water-filled leaf axils or small woody cavities) as sites for depositing a few tadpoles.[129] While these smaller rearing sites are free from competition, they also lack sufficient nutrients to support a tadpole without parental assistance.

    Frog species that changed from the use of larger to smaller phytotelmata have evolved a strategy of providing their offspring with nutritive but unfertilized eggs.[127]

    The female strawberry poison-dart frog (Oophaga pumilio) lays her eggs on the forest floor. The male frog guards them from predation and carries water in his cloaca to keep them moist. When they hatch, the female moves the tadpoles on her back to a water-holding bromeliad or other similar water body, depositing just one in each location. She visits them regularly and feeds them by laying one or two unfertilized eggs in the phytotelma, continuing to do this until the young are large enough to undergo metamorphosis.[130] The granular poison frog (Oophaga granulifera) looks after its tadpoles in a similar way.[131]

    Many other diverse forms of parental care are seen in frogs. The tiny male Colostethus subpunctatus stands guard over his egg cluster, laid under a stone or log. When the eggs hatch, he transports the tadpoles on his back to a temporary pool, where he partially immerses himself in the water and one or more tadpoles drop off. He then moves on to another pool.[132]

    The male common midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans) carries the eggs around with him attached to his hind legs. He keeps them damp in dry weather by immersing himself in a pond, and prevents them from getting too wet in soggy vegetation by raising his hindquarters. After three to six weeks, he travels to a pond and the eggs hatch into tadpoles.[133]

    The tungara frog (Physalaemus pustulosus) builds a floating nest from foam to protect its eggs from predation. The foam is made from proteins and lectins, and seems to have antimicrobial properties.[134] Several pairs of frogs may form a colonial nest on a previously built raft. The eggs are laid in the centre, followed by alternate layers of foam and eggs, finishing with a foam capping.[135]

    Some frogs protect their offspring inside their own bodies.

    Both male and female pouched frogs (Assa darlingtoni) guard their eggs, which are laid on the ground. When the eggs hatch, the male lubricates his body with the jelly surrounding them and immerses himself in the egg mass. The tadpoles wriggle into skin pouches on his side, where they develop until they metamorphose into juvenile frogs.[136]

    The female gastric-brooding frog (Rheobatrachus sp.) from Australia, now probably extinct, swallows her fertilized eggs, which then develop inside her stomach. She ceases to feed and stops secreting stomach acid. The tadpoles rely on the yolks of the eggs for nourishment. After six or seven weeks, they are ready for metamorphosis. The mother regurgitates the tiny frogs, which hop away from her mouth.[137]

    The female Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) from Chile lays up to 40 eggs on the ground, where they are guarded by the male. When the tadpoles are about to hatch, they are engulfed by the male, which carries them around inside his much-enlarged vocal sac. Here they are immersed in a frothy, viscous liquid that contains some nourishment to supplement what they obtain from the yolks of the eggs. They remain in the sac for seven to ten weeks before undergoing metamorphosis, after which they move into the male’s mouth and emerge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frog

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