OCT 28, 2016 09:48 AM PDT

This Amazonian Frog Protects Itself From Leaf-Cutter Ants in a Peculiar Way

This frog can protect itself from leaf-cutter ants by using a special chemical.

Image Credit: Albertina Pimentel Lima

Somewhere in the middle of the Amazon rain forest in South America is a strange kind of frog (Lithodytes lineatus) that appears to be completely impervious to aggressive leaf-cutter ants, and until now, it wasn’t understood why the little insects leave this particular species alone while buzzing down everything else in their path.
 
Reporting in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, researcher André Barros and his colleagues explain the frog’s innate ability to excrete a type of chemical from its skin that normally only the leaf-cutter ants excrete.
 
The ants usually use this chemical as a pheromone marker to determine who’s friendly and who’s a foe. As a result, all the ants use this chemical to tell each other apart from another species.
 
This frog, on the other hand seems to have evolved with a way to mimic that very same chemical. As a result, its effects work similarly to camouflage because it allows the frog to ‘fit in’ as a friend to the ants.
 
Confirming the chemical’s properties, the researchers put the Lithodytes lineatus into a glass vessel along with a load of leaf-cutter ants and a few other frog species from the region.
 
Unsurprisingly, the Lithodytes lineatus never made any attempts to escape the vessel during the ten-minute exposure, but all of the other frog species were jumping around trying to find an exit.
 
To further prove that the chemical worked as a protection, they covered 10 frogs that don’t secrete the chemical naturally with it to see what would happen. Unsurprisingly, even the other species of frogs that were now lathed in the chemical bath were no longer affected by the ants.
 
"Our results demonstrate that the skin of frog Lithodytes lineatus has chemicals that prevent the attack of two species of leaf-cutting ants," says Barros. "It therefore seems that Lithodytes lineatus has chemical skin compounds that are recognized by ants of genus Atta, which may allow for coexistence between ants and frogs."
 
Since the frogs rely on the humidity of the area, chances are they evolved to perform this trick so they could better survive and reproduce.
 
Source: EurekAlert

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 05, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 05, 2018
Dinosaur Eggs Were Likely Very Colorful, Study Suggests
If we asked you to picture dinosaur eggs in your mind, what would you see? A nest full of massive gray or tan eggs? That’s the consensus among most p...
DEC 04, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 04, 2018
Will Reduced Protected Lands in Utah Impact Local Bee Biodiversity?
Many American states have nicknames that subtly describe their unique qualities; Utah, for example, is known as the beehive state. But that origin of that...
DEC 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 10, 2018
Urbanized Tungara Frogs Have Developed Sexier Mating Calls, But Why?
Animals of all kinds change their behavior to adapt to urbanized settings, and tungara frogs are no different. New research published this week in the jour...
DEC 20, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 20, 2018
The science Behind the Best Christmas Trees
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Houses and storefronts are all decorated with Christmas trees, sparkling lights and shiny ornaments. The Christmas tree is an iconic part of the h...
JAN 09, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 09, 2019
Study Analyzes Elephant Movement Patterns Relative to Resource Availability
The world and its many landscapes are continuously changing, so it should come as no surprise that wild animals follow suit in order to adjust to the dynam...
JAN 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 21, 2019
Here's What Makes An Elephant Trunk So Amazing
One of the most recognizable features of an elephant is its trunk – the long appendage that extends out from the animal’s face. Elephants use i...
Loading Comments...