No Eggs Needed: 'Fanged' Frogs Give Birth

Newly discovered species is only one with the ability: researchers
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 4, 2015 6:22 AM CST
"Fanged" frogs, Limnonectes larvaepartus, as seen in PLoS One.   (Iskandar DT, Evans BJ, McGuire JA/Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Your typical frogs lay eggs, while a few species give birth to froglets. But frogs giving birth to tadpoles is new to science—and researchers have managed to witness it, the BBC reports. A scientist at Berkeley was holding what he thought was a male frog when it gave birth to a bunch of tadpoles. Now, "In total, we have either observed tadpoles in the oviducts or direct-birth of tadpoles on 19 occasions," researchers write at PLoS ONE. The species in question, called a "fanged" frog because it fights with appendages extending from its lower jaw, was discovered in the 1990s, but only recently determined to be its own species.

"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," says Jim McGuire, the researcher who held the frog as it was giving birth. Its Latin name, Limnonectes larvaepartus, means "marsh swimmer that gives birth to larvae," Reuters reports. Researchers still aren't sure how the males fertilize the eggs, given that they don't have typical penises. But frogs have "all sorts" of weird reproductive habits, McGuire notes, ranging from females swallowing and brooding their eggs in their stomachs to males brooding them in their vocal sacs. (Speaking of vocal sacs, another "new" species boasts a highly unusual croak.)

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