Collaborating Authors

Water buffaloes on the Black Sea coast covered in frogs

Daily Mail - Science & tech

At first glance, they seem an unlikely pair: the massive, horned water buffalo that grazes along the Black Sea coast, and the tiny marsh frog. After the accidental discovery of an Anatolian water buffalo covered in hitchhiking amphibians, however, researchers now say the two may have a relationship of biological importance. A new study on the bizarre behaviour has found that this previously undescribed interaction may actually be common, with buffalo seen to host 2-5 frogs at a time on numerous occasions – and in one case, 27 frogs were perched atop a single buffalo. Frogs are known to feast on flies – and, buffaloes are known to harbour these insects. By resting on a buffalo, the frogs could have access to a plentiful food source, while at the same time cleansing pests from the mammal's shaggy coat, the researchers explain.

Nocturnal animals first evolved to make noise so they could communicate in the dark

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The ability of animals to make vocal noises began 200 million years ago due to nocturnal animals needing to communicate in the dark, scientists say. The common ancestor of land-based vertebrates, including mammals, birds and frogs, did not have the ability to communicate through vocalisations. Instead, acoustic communication evolved separately in the last 100 million to 200 million years – depending on the group, the US and Chinese researchers said. Creatures that since evolved to become diurnal – active during the day – carried with them this new ability to communicate acoustically through growls, chirps and roars. 'Here, we show that this idea of ecology shaping signal evolution applies over hundreds of millions of years and to fundamental types of signals, such as being able to communicate acoustically or not,' said study author Dr John Wiens from the University of Arizona.

Bison or buffalo? Possum or opossum? What's the difference?

National Geographic

A Virginia opossum (pictured in Michigan) is a far cry from the possums of the Pacific islands. Butterflies fly during the day, and moths come out at night. At least, that's what conventional wisdom says. But is this a good way to tell the difference between butterflies and moths? Not really, says Akito Kawahara, an entomologist and curator of Lepidoptera--the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths--at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

How does this polka dot tree frog glow in the dark?

Christian Science Monitor | Science

March 15, 2017 --At first glance, the South American polka dot tree frog gives off a pale, brownish-green hue. In a study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of Argentinian and Brazilian researchers attribute this phenomenon, known as fluorescence, to compounds secreted by the frog's skin and lymph glands. They see their finding as a major step forward for our understanding of amphibians. "We were not expecting this bio-fluorescence," study co-author Norberto Peporine Lopes told Chemistry World. "It was an incredible surprise."

Frog inflates its backside to show off a pair of poison-squirting fake eyes to escape predators

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Animals have evolved all sorts of techniques to ward off predators in the wild – but, the adaptations of one tiny frog in South America might just take the cake. When viewed from behind, you might mistake the Cuyaba dwarf frog's rump for a menacing face. The small amphibian is equipped with the ability to puff up its body, allowing it to appear much larger than it actually is. And, with two large eyespots positioned on its hindquarters, it bears an uncanny resemblance to a snake. The huge eyespots on their rear ends help to ward off predators such as birds, snakes, and even frog-eating bats.