NOT Kermit the Frog. Sorry. Although the idea of a nasty, Russian frog impersonating Kermit is pretty devious, neither Kermit nor the frog masquerading as him in the new Muppets movie hold a candle to the poison dart frog.
The golden poison dart frog has enough poison to kill 10 people. It’s believed that their toxicity is related to their diet, as they consume insects that feed on poisonous tropical plants. The frogs absorb this poison and they’re able to secrete it out of glands on their backs when they feel threatened.
I’m definitely a frog lover, so this is fascinating to me! But even if you’re not a fan of these small amphibians, they may affect you more than you realize. By studying the venom of poison dart frogs, researchers are working to develop a synthetic compound intended for pain relief. This non-addictive, non-opioid drug is 200x stronger than morphine. Interested yet?
Frogs, snails, snakes, spiders, centipedes, slugs, and worms may make some people shudder, but the amazing things these animals are teaching us could make a huge difference to you and your loved ones! Some of the deadliest animals in the world helping with some of the deadliest diseases in the world? Unlike Kermit, that’s nothing to laugh at!
Science can surprise you. And inspiration can come from anywhere. Biomechanics researcher at Brown University, Thomas Roberts, is proof of that! While looking at records in the Guinness Book of World Records with his son, something didn’t seem quite right. Scientific studies had previously shown the maximum distance of a frog’s jump to be around 1 m, but the world record showed jumps of over 2m.
So Roberts did some creative research of his own at a local county fair. Hours of video recording and observation showed that previous research had obviously underestimated frog jumping performance. You may be asking yourself, “Why should I really care about jumping frogs?”- but trust me, there’s a good reason to care. Frogs are often studied for their relevance in muscle performance, and they can be a very accurate model for human physiology studies.
Observing frogs at the fair seems like pretty unconventional animal research, but it proved to be extremely helpful! Based on observations, it seems that leg muscle isn’t the only factor in contributing to jumping distances, and this could help us understand physiological traits of other animals- including humans. Here’s to thinking- and jumping- outside the box!
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably had several experiences where you FREAK OUT at others’ lack of caution with your (or their!) kids. From allowing your 5-year-old to ride a bike without a helmet, showing a PG-13 movie at an 8-year-old’s sleepover, tossing your infant in the air WAY too high for comfort, or letting your 2-year-old experiment with throwing random items into a toilet to see what will happen, moms everywhere have laundry lists of “NO-NO’s” that are usually not followed by dads other caregivers.
But let me introduce you to a dad who will DEFINITELY not win a father of the year award. Meet the male dyeing poison frog- after his baby tadpoles hatch, he carries the newborns to pools of water with older, cannibalistic tadpoles, drops them in, hops away, and hopes for the best.
Moms everywhere just went “WHAAAT?” But hear him out- just like your significant other caregivers you might know, they have what they think is a REALLY GOOD REASON for this. Apparently, they have a pretty good probability of surviving (although definitely not high enough to make moms happy), and since those older, cannibalistic tadpoles are growing and healthy, the pool must be a good spot.
Learning about the evolution of this strange reasoning could help researchers understand this behavior- both in frogs and in humans. And maybe now you’ll think that letting your little one experiment with toilet science isn’t quite as big of a deal…