Zooillogix

A study of rare African frogs has revealed a form of self-defense hitherto unbeknownst to the scientific world: claws of pure bone that burst through the frogs’ skin. And it gets worse. When the frogs are threatened they need to first “actively break” their own bones in order to create these claws.

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Don’t make me angry…you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

David Blackburn of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology released his team’s findings last week in Biology Letters on the Trichobatrachus robustus, and ten other related species of frog, most of which live in Cameroon.

The frogs’ claws differ from other…

creatures’ in many ways. The first is that the claws are not coated in keratin, like pretty much all other known claws in the vertebrate world. Most surprising, however, is how the frogs make the claws and from where they burst forth. When put in a compromising situation, the T. robustus appears to flex a muscle which in turn breaks a certain bone into pieces creating a sharp point. The point then pushes through the frogs’ own skin, and out of its toe pad.

“Some other frogs have bony spines that project from their wrist, but in those species it appears that the bones grow through the skin rather than pierce it when needed for defense,” Blackburn said to New Scientist.

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Blackburn has only studied dead specimens of the frogs, but he is speculating that rather than contracting the claws, the frog may regenerate the broken skin around it, like other amphibians in similar situations. The famous Belgian zoologist George Boulenger described the contracting claws of African frogs way back in 1900, but he failed to grasp just how unique this adaptation was.

If right now, you are pondering posting a comment about these frogs comparing them to Weapon X or Wolverine, please send your lunch money to:

Benny Bleiman
101 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94105

Thank you kindly.

Comments

  1. #1 sydneycarton
    June 2, 2008

    That is bloody awesome. So, are these one-use claws, or can they break the bone again after the first use? If not, we’d better hope that these frogs don’t surpass their limit of one emergency each.

  2. #2 eric
    June 3, 2008

    Wicked. Around another corner and ma nature slaps you again, “Thought you knew vert claws huh… SLAP!”

    How is frog regeneration, enough for bones, ligaments and collagen?

  3. #3 Pat
    June 3, 2008

    Everbody was Kung-Frog Fighting….

  4. #4 Rick.
    June 8, 2008

    Wolverine from the X-Men is a frog!

  5. #5 steff
    February 17, 2009

    This frog is freaky! But it’s so crazy how it can do that with its claws! BTW, does anyone know its global and microclimate habitat, and its diet?

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