|Relative size difference between tadpole and adult frog|
Today's offering is the paradoxical frog (Pseudis paradoxa), also know as the shrinking frog. I have to admit, the name of this frog alone makes it one of my favorites. But wait, there's a bonus! This frog is not weird in name only. Oh no, it's weird in actual fact: the tadpole stage of this amphibian is much larger than than the adult. Why this should be is something of a mystery, and highly unusual too. I would guess that this frog has evolved so that its life stages occupy quite different niches. Before the tadpole was seen to actually become the adult, they were even believed to be two different species. Prior to that exciting discovery you might have been excused for not giving this frog a second look. In fact, it would have been hard to give it a first look. In the wild they are just that cryptic.
But their bizarre ability to shrink is not their only secret. These frogs might someday help humans beat diabetes. They produce a compound which was shown in 2008 to stimulate production of insulin in compromised pancreatic cells. Even better, it the compound did it with no toxic effects. Why do these little South American frogs make a diabetes drug in their skin? It seems to have some sort of anti-microbial effect too, with the insulin production a happy accident.
An easy one today: don't set your pet frog free in the wild! Non-native frogs (and animals of all kinds) wreak havoc with wild populations. They can introduce disease, out-compete or even eat native frogs, or may die an awful death from being set loose in an area that they can't cope with. What to do instead? Most areas have local herpetological clubs. Check out their websites for hints on ways to find a home for your unwanted frog. You'll both be happy you did!