A survey of frog odorous secretions, their possible functions and phylogenetic significance

That, my gentle reader, is the title of a scientific paper that was yesterday awarded the 2005 Ig Noble Prize in Biology. And what better place to announce it than here on Mutantfrog.com?

Here’s what the abstract has to say about this fascinating inquiry:

This study provides a survey of frog odour (with particular reference to Australian species) and discusses the human perception and classification of frog volatile secretions. Professional and amateur herpetologists were solicited for information on the frogs they perceived as odorous. In addition, volunteers were asked to smell stressed frogs and describe the odour that they perceived. A total of 131 species, representing 30 genera (14 Australian and 16 other) and 11 families were assessed for odour. Odours ranged from pleasant floral aromas (e. g. Notaden spp. and Neobatrachus spp.) through to acrid, repulsive odours (e. g. Litoria alboguttata). The systematic relationships of these odours and their potential biological roles are discussed.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

Mutant frog found

Unusual frogs found

By LAURA KIRBY, Gazette Writer

SOUTH RANGE – They’ve been “critter catching” for the last three years, but they’ve never seen anything like it.
Brothers Cameron and Christopher Lystila each caught themselves a “mutant frog” at Lake Perrault within a week.

“We’ve been catching frogs here for three years, we’ve never come across anything that’s mutant,” said the boys’ mother, Sherri.

Nine-year-old Christopher was enjoying Labor Day when he grabbed the one-eyed green leopard frog from the lake near South Range.

Later last week, brother Cameron, 7, found a similar oddity while creature hunting in the same spot. Both eyes intact, the second mutant frog had an extra leg.

“To see it first hand is actually quite a unique experience,” said Duane Pangrazzi, the boys’ science teacher. Pangrazzi said the one-eyed frog, under student observation for the past week in his South Range Elementary classroom, has been a hot topic of conversation, giving students a real-life scientific example, and even prompting some personal research.

Exploding toads puzzle German scientists

Despite going by ‘Mutantfrog’ online, I feel I’ve been neglecting coverage of my namesake animals. To rectify this problem I’ve just added a category on the right. Anura is the name for the order of amphibians which includes both frogs and toads, which will both get mentioned once in a while.

More than 1,000 creatures have puffed up and popped
The Associated Press
Updated: 12:43 p.m. ET April 27, 2005

BERLIN – More than 1,000 toads have puffed up and exploded in a Hamburg pond in recent weeks, and scientists still have no explanation for what’s causing the combustion, an official said Wednesday.

Both the pond’s water and body parts of the toads have been tested, but scientists have been unable to find a bacteria or virus that would cause the toads to swell up and pop, said Janne Kloepper, of the Hamburg-based Institute for Hygiene and the Environment.

“It’s absolutely strange,” she said. “We have a really unique story here in Hamburg. This phenomenon really doesn’t seem to have appeared anywhere before.”

The toads at a pond in the upscale neighborhood of Altona have been blowing up since the beginning of the month, filling up like balloons until their stomachs suddenly burst.

“It looks like a scene from a science-fiction movie,” Werner Schmolnik, the head of a local environment group, told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily. “The bloated animals suffer for several minutes before they finally die.”

Biologists have come up with several theories, but Kloepper said that most have been ruled out.

The pond’s water quality is no better or worse than other bodies of water in Hamburg, the toads did not appear to have a disease, and a laboratory in Berlin has ruled out the possibility that it is a fungus that made its way from South America, she said.

She said that tests will continue. In the meantime, city residents have been warned to stay away from the pond.