Scientists recently discovered a rare frog species in Indonesia that gives birth to live tadpoles instead of eggs or froglets. This discovery was published this week in a science journal.
Last summer, herpatologist Jim McGuire discovered the proof the rare frog is one of 25 species within Indonesia that have two fangs for fighting and birth live tadpoles. This is the only frog species in the entire world to do so. McGuire even named the species Limnonectes larvaepartus.
A closer look at the Asian fanged frog
This newly discovered frog is an interesting find to scientists. Most of the 6,000 frog species throughout the world uses external fertilization in which the female lays the egg and the male releases sperm to fertilize the egg. McGuire added, “But there are lots of weird modifications to this standard mode of mating. This new frog is one of only 10 or 12 species that has evolved internal fertilization, and of those, it is the only one that gives birth to tadpoles, as opposed to froglets or laying fertilized eggs.”
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A scientific mystery
Because frogs have no conventional sexual organs to transfer sperm, it remains a mystery how the male frog fertilizes the eggs inside the female frog. It should be noted there are two frog species in California with an evolved penis-like tail that does the job. However, scientists have yet to find the contrivance in the Asian fanged frog. The Limnonectes larvaepartus was first discovered in the 1990s but were not confirmed as a distinct species.
The Zoological Society of London team leader Ben Tapley claimed the finding was out of the blue. He said the frogs are relatively boring and to find something completely surprising about an otherwise non-descript frog is amazing. There is not much known about the biology of the animals. Tapley added that finding a new species is not rare but discovering a new reproduction mode is rare. He also noted the significance of the latest find. He said finding these frogs in Sulawesi (where most of the forest is gone) is important before it’s too late.