Foam Frog Fortress Is Not Natural
Recipe for Frog Foam Is Quite Unnatural
by Brian Thomas, M.S.
Some frogs build nests to hold their eggs by whipping up a kind of floating foam. A recent study discovered that the proper frothy architecture is only achieved by following precise construction parameters. How did the frogs acquire such a sophisticated building technique?
Tungara frogs, native to Central and South America, have to build their nests just right in order to preserve the next generation. Researchers caught the process on camera and were able to discern that “the nesting process is sophisticated.”1 They discovered many interesting specifications that the nest must meet, as well as how these frogs meet them. The nests appear to be part of an irreducibly complex system, meaning that if even one aspect of the nest building procedure is removed, the whole system collapses.
The failure of the nests would spell the end of these frogs. This means that from their beginning, Tungara frogs must have possessed all of the necessary habits and materials for their peculiar nesting recipe.
In their study published in the Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters, co-authors Laura Dalgetty and Malcolm Kennedy outlined the “particular biophysical challenges” that these frogs have to overcome to construct their floating foam fortresses.1 They must first be able to manufacture the right kind of foam, which is trickier than it may at first appear. The foam needs the correct protein material, which the female secretes. While sitting on her back, the male uses his hind feet to mix the secretion with water and “then increasingly with air.” If he doesn’t do it correctly, this “would result in rapid dilution of the surfactant proteins required to create foam,”1 and no nest at all would result. These surfactants are necessary to reduce the water’s surface tension. – More here.