Feeds

Biologists track down elusive lungless frog

Backwards evolution in Borneo

Top three mobile application threats

Scientists from the National University of Singapore have described a rare lungless frog which appears to absorb oxygen through its skin.

Barbourula kalimantanensis. Pic: National University of SingaporeThe university's team, led by evolutionary biologist David Bickford, spent two weeks scouring the remote Kalimantan region of Indonesian Borneo to find examples of Barbourula kalimantanensis, which was first identified 30 years ago.

The researchers report in Current Biology: "In August 2007, we visited Western Kalimantan but found that illegal gold mining had destroyed all suitable habitats in the vicinity. The originally cool, clear, fast-flowing rivers are now warm and turbid. Water quality around the locality is no longer suitable for the species, but we were able to re-discover two new populations upstream."

The university's website elaborates: "The frog lives in cold water which has higher oxygen content than warm water. The team surmises that the frog has a low metabolic rate and hence needs less oxygen anyway. It is also severely flat compared to other frogs and this would increase the surface area of the skin, allowing it to take in oxygen more efficiently.

"Having lungs also means being more buoyant and hence, more easily swept away by fast-flowing waters. Thus the loss of lungs as an adaptation to living in very fast-flowing streams seems to be a rational hypothesis as well."

Barbourula kalimantanensis is a strange critter indeed, and the team notes that "the evolution of lunglessness in four-limbed amphibians is exceedingly rare, and known in "only in two families of salamanders, and a single species of caecilian, a species of earthworm-like amphibian".

The scientists conclude: "The discovery of lunglessness in a secretive Bornean frog supports the idea that lungs are a malleable trait in the Amphibia, the sister group of all living tetrapods. Amphibians may be more prone to lunglessness since they readily utilize other methods for gas exchange."

Barbourula kalimantanensis is, inevitably, at risk from the destruction of its habitat. Bickford called for protection of this "evolutionary enigma" and he and his team will now move to "better understand the extinction risk of the species, to map its exact geographic range and to make a more complete assessment of potential habitats". ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.