Biology Strange

Failed De-Extinction of Frogs that Give Birth Through the Mouth

Here’s a strange and interesting project: the attempted de-extinction of the Gastric-Brooding Frog. This unique animal went extinct in the mid-1980’s, we think due to a fungus introduced into their habitat by humans. It is only fitting then, that we try to bring them back. The Lazarus Project tried in 2013.

The gastric-brooding frog, also known as the ‘platypus frog’, was a genus that included two extraordinary species of frogs. Both the species were confined to the rainforests of Queensland, Australia, and became extinct in the mid-1980s, a few years after their discovery. – Link

In March 2013, Australian scientists successfully created a living embryo from non-living preserved genetic material. These scientists from the University of Newcastle Australia led by Prof Michael Mahony, who was the scientist who first discovered the northern gastric-brooding frog, Simon Clulow and Prof Mike Archer from the University of New South Wales hope to continue using somatic-cell nuclear transfer methods to produce an embryo that can survive to the tadpole stage. “We do expect to get this guy hopping again,” says UNSW researcher Mike Archer.[24]

Scientists Resurrect Bonkers Extinct Frog That Gives Birth Through Its MouthIt’s been gone since 1983, but the Lazarus Project has brought it back to life. In 1983, the world lost one of its weirdest frogs. The gastric-brooding frog, native to tiny portions of Queensland, Australia, gave birth through its mouth, the only frog to do so (in fact, very few other animals in the entire animal kingdom do this–it’s mostly this frog and a few fish). It succumbed to extinction due to mostly non-human-related causes–parasites, loss of habitat, invasive weeds, a particular kind of fungus. There were two subspecies, the northern and southern gastric-brooding frog, and they both became extinct in the mid-80s sometime.
… the gastric-brooding frog lays eggs, which are coated in a substance called prostaglandin. This substance causes the frog to stop producing gastric acid in its stomach, thus making the frog’s stomach a very nice place for eggs to be. So the frog swallows the eggs, incubates them in her gut, and when they hatch, the baby frogs crawl out her mouth.

No word on any progress since the resulting embryos did not survive past a few days, but when they did genetic tests confirmed they were full of the genetic material from the extinct species, so there was a bit of progress… but the gastric brooding (blasted autocorrect said “breeding”) frog is still extinct in 2019.

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