Pharyngula

The miracle of birth!

When Surinam Toads mate, the male fertilizes the eggs and rubs them onto the female’s back, where they adhere…and the female’s skin responds by swelling and enveloping the eggs. Then, a few months later, we get this lovely scene:

Comments

  1. #1 Fragano Ledgister
    March 24, 2008

    I’ve been to Surinam, but I never saw anything like that there.

  2. #2 Tim Tesar
    March 24, 2008

    Isn’t Nature wonderful!!! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! (With apologies to Monty Python).

  3. #3 Tom
    March 24, 2008

    I remember first seeing a video of those toads when I was about 12 and being a young boy thought it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, in fact, I still do.

  4. #4 Cuttlefish, OM
    March 24, 2008

    That’s the strangest of all that I’ve seen–
    A mutation that takes Halloween
    With its blood, guts and gore,
    And then mixes up more,
    In the form of a fine French cuisine!

  5. #5 Confused
    March 24, 2008

    Can I just confirm that the toad in the video is underwater, and the young aren’t actually erupting out of the back and being fired across the room (as I thought at first glance when the first one shot out)?

  6. #6 Joe M
    March 24, 2008

    I remember seeing video of this years ago, and for some reason, it completely grosses me out.

    Excuse me while I go release some coffee out of the top end…

  7. #7 TechSkeptic
    March 24, 2008

    Phew!

    Surinam was an ex-girlfriend of mine. Looks like I dodged a bullet!

  8. #8 Niobe
    March 24, 2008

    I can’t help but be reminded of this photoshop:
    http://www.snopes.com/photos/medical/breastrash.asp
    NSFW.

  9. #9 craig
    March 24, 2008

    looks itchy.

  10. #10 Kawa
    March 24, 2008

    I’m reminded of Gremlins. Could this have been an inspiration?

  11. #11 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Gee.

    I wonder though, is there a specific reason why it is the female that evolved this capability instead of the males or is it just coincidence that it isn’t the sea horse route? (Which itself could be coincidence. I can’t remember from the posts I believe has been up here.)

    For an example of a pathway, initially sloppy laying of sticky eggs could have happened to both sexes.

  12. #12 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Gee.

    I wonder though, is there a specific reason why it is the female that evolved this capability instead of the males or is it just coincidence that it isn’t the sea horse route? (Which itself could be coincidence. I can’t remember from the posts I believe has been up here.)

    For an example of a pathway, initially sloppy laying of sticky eggs could have happened to both sexes.

  13. #13 Vernon
    March 24, 2008

    Kawa: But how do you keep frogs from getting wet?

  14. #14 revulo
    March 24, 2008

    I don’t know why I clicked on that, I knew that it would gross me out. All I can imagine now are frogs popping out of my skin. Eeeeh…

  15. #15 Bride of Shrek
    March 24, 2008

    Ooooohhh, I have toad envy. After three children, I can speak with somewhat authoritarian voice when I say giving birth through the back has got the be less painful than the vadge.

  16. #16 Lynnai
    March 24, 2008

    That does facinating uncomfortable things to my fertile imagination.

    Could somebody please pass the brain bleach?

  17. #17 Eric
    March 24, 2008

    [blockquote]I can’t help but be reminded of this photoshop:
    [Icky link] NSFW.[/blockquote]

    I came in here to wonder how long it would take for 4chan to get hold of this vid and find a way to video-edit it onto something inappropriate.

    Those of you with fertile imaginations or needing brain bleach? Don’t click the link.

  18. #18 Interrobang
    March 24, 2008

    Thanks, PZ, for reaffirming my ardent desire to stay childless… (Just because it happens naturally doesn’t mean it’s necessarily not deeply icky.)

    Why do I get the distinct impression these reproduction posts PZ does from time to time are his subliminal way of expressing the sentiment “Thank goodness I’m not female”?

  19. #19 Nelson M.
    March 24, 2008

    I imagine that the link in post #8 is the infamous “lotusboob¨

    The video is pretty neat once I get past my (apparently not uncommon) squeamishness.

  20. #20 AMB
    March 24, 2008

    I am originally from Suriname (note correct spelling), but I’ve never seen one like that. Although I have heard about them in school there.

  21. #21 Coyote
    March 24, 2008

    I have to say that I wish I hadn’t seen this video. I have OCD and a lesser known symptom of the disorder is persistent unpleasant thoughts intruding into your thinking. I’m going to see tiny frogs errupting from people’s flesh for so long now…

  22. #22 Wisaakah
    March 24, 2008

    Thanks Niobe…

    My nightmares have been much too tame as of late…

  23. #23 Jim Thomerson
    March 24, 2008

    I had an MS student do a theis on Pipa parva, a smaller relative which lives in temporary waters in the coastal areas in the vicinity of Lake Maracaibo. In this species the young come out as tadpoles, rather than froglets. The female is ready to mate again as soon as the tadpoles are released. The tadpoles feed during their metamorphosis into toadlets, which is unusual. We would keep cladocerans in the aquaria with tadpoles to help keep the water clear. The tadpoles apparently did not eat cladocerans, but as soon as one started metamorphosis to a toadlet, the cladocera would disappear from that tank.

  24. #24 tom j lawson
    March 24, 2008

    That lady’s voice reminds me of my mother’s whenever we’d visit a zoo or biological preserve…she’d see something naturally amazing like this and say, “God has a wild imagination…” (sigh)

  25. #25 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Can I just confirm that the toad in the video is underwater

    Yes.

    And they aren’t popping through the skin or something, the skin grows thicker around the eggs.

  26. #26 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 24, 2008

    Can I just confirm that the toad in the video is underwater

    Yes.

    And they aren’t popping through the skin or something, the skin grows thicker around the eggs.

  27. #27 Kerlyssa
    March 24, 2008

    …I’m going to think of this next time I get a zit. Damn you.

  28. #28 CanadianChick
    March 24, 2008

    y’know – as much as I love the controversial posts and the religion posts and the “oh-look-what-the-silly-cdesign proponentists-have-done-now” posts…

    posts like this REALLY remind me of how cool I think biology is, and why I had wanted to be a biologist before I got sidetracked by the need to make a living…

    and THAT is one of the reasons I keep coming back here – stuff like this makes this accountant yell “that’s so COOL” and run off and post the link everywhere!

  29. #29 Carlie
    March 24, 2008

    I showed this to my students today. They did not like me.

  30. #30 Ben K.
    March 24, 2008

    I am not a squeamish person in the least (blood and broken bones in real life, blood and guts in the movies), but for some reason that scene (originally viewed on the Discover Channel years ago) always gives me the willies.

  31. #31 El
    March 25, 2008

    I frequently have nightmares about having eggs laid under my skin, or plants growing out of pockets in my skin. This video and the links in the comments are seriously making me want to throw up.

    …That said, it’s still pretty cool.

  32. #32 pradeep
    March 25, 2008

    I can’t help but be reminded of this photoshop:
    http://www.snopes.com/photos/medical/breastrash.asp
    NSFW.

    Even though I know the photo is a fake because of the lack of inflammation, etc. the picture of the breast infected with lotus seeds is somewhat disturbing. It gave me the willies more than the Surinam toad video.

  33. #33 Peter Ashby
    March 25, 2008

    Carlie if you had shown it to me when I was young I would have grossed out the rest of the class by asking you to run it again. But then I was the kid who when we were dissecting rats grossed out the class by dissecting the testes of my rat, and I wasn’t even dared or anything. Strange that I ended up with a Bio PhD, don’t you think?

  34. #34 SEF
    March 25, 2008

    I showed this to my students today. They did not like me.

    They must have become overly sensitive in their old age then (unless UK kids are made of sterner stuff than US ones). When I told the local primary school children here, the other year, about the surinam toad (among other bits of amphibian biology, tetrapods in general, metamorphosis, development and evolution) they seemed quite intrigued. They also remembered the visit of the-person-with-the-frogs for quite a long time afterwards in an out of school context.

  35. #35 LightningRose
    March 25, 2008

    No way am I clicking that! I took physics in high school just so I wouldn’t have to see or do gross things with frogs! :)

  36. #36 Lucy
    March 25, 2008

    Well that was unbelievable…..I’m with Torbjörn Larsson – how did this evolve? Its only my heavy homework that prevents me from making serious use of Google right now.

  37. #37 LP
    March 25, 2008

    This made me itch.

  38. #38 LisaJ
    March 26, 2008

    Cool, but gross!

  39. #39 dave
    April 15, 2008

    Something very disturbing about creatures burrowing into the skin…
    When I was a child (nearly 60 now) a neighbor gave me a 1940’s copy of Natural History magazine with pictures of this toad. I was horrified (still am).

  40. #40 JohnR
    April 15, 2008

    I don’t think the young burrow into the skin. I think the eggs are laid there and the mother’s skin grows around them. It’s an outer layer of dead skin, like a callus or something. I’m assuming that layer of skin just sheds once the young emerge.

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