Frog of the Week

Pumpkin Toadlet (Brachycephalus ephippium)

1802

leastconcern

Common Name: Pumpkin Toadlet or Spix’s Saddleback Toad,
Scientific Name: Brachycephalus ephippium
Family: Brachycephalidae
Location: Brazil
Size: 0.49 inches to .77 inches (12.5mm to 19.7mm)

Interesting fact, Pumpkin Toadlet only have 3 fingers on each hand. They breed during the rainy season. The males can be highly territorial during this time and will release calls and wave their arms in front of their own eyes at intruders in their territory.  If that doesn’t scare of the intruder, they will get into a wrestling match. After Pumpkin Toadlets breed, the females roll the eggs in the dirt to camouflage them and then leaves them. The eggs develop directly into frogs, skipping a free tadpole stage.

Have you ever wondered if no one else can hear you talk? Well for the Pumpkin Toadlet, its true. The frogs have lost the ability to hear their own mating calls.  Their middle and inner ears are underdeveloped and can’t pick up the high, soft pitch calls that they produce. The males raise their body when calling so the visual signal could be more important that an auditory signal.

If that is not weird enough for y’all, the bones of the Pumpkin Toadlet are very fluorescent. Bones are generally fluorescent but can’t be seen through the skin, this is not the case for the them. The exact reason for this fluorescence is not known but a few ideas are out there. Since the frogs can’t hear calls, it could be a signal for mating or it could be a warning to predators that they are toxic. It could be nothing at all and the florescence isn’t commonly seen in natural habitats. You can read the paper on it at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-41959-8

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