Feeds

Cane toads pay dearly for stretching their legs

Arthritis affects amphibian advance

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Scientists from the University of Sydney and the Department of Primary Industries have offered Aussies some slim hope that they will not ultimately be driven from the Lucky Country by rampaging hordes of cane toads who continue their inexorable march across Oz.

Cane toads were introduced into Australia from Hawaii in the 1930s in an attempt to combat the cane beetle. This turned out to be a very bad idea indeed, since they proved effective in combatting anything foolish enough to get in their path, advancing 3,000km across the country from their Northern Queensland start line at up to 40km a year, in the process swelling their ranks to an estimated 200 million individuals.

Indeed, in February 2006, we reported that a vanguard had penetrated to within 37 miles of Darwin, assisted by the simple trick of growing longer legs to speed their conquest.

University of Sydney researcher Richard Shine told Nature at the time: "We find that toads with longer legs can not only move faster and are the first to arrive in new areas, but also that those at the front have longer legs than toads in older populations."

However, they may now be about to pay the price for their cunning extended leg ruse. Richard Shine is now reporting that "larger cane toads invading NSW cities are suffering back pain and arthritis from their long trek".

Shine elaborates in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Bigger, longer legs increase their ability to seek out new territory but also puts pressure on the body with every hop. And, with much of their energy going towards movement, less is put into their immune system, which may predispose the toads towards infection with the soil bacteria that precipitate arthritis.

"Ironically, factors that have contributed to the toads' rapid spread across the continent have also rendered it susceptible to arthritis."

But before our Antipodean cousins fire up the celebratory barbie and crack a cold one, they should be aware that "only as much as 10 per cent of the larger-sized toads are beginning to show a high incidence of spinal abnormalities", leaving the vast majority fit and able to stretch their legs in pursuit of the final conquest of Down Under. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.