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Gross Science
Gross Science

Why Scientists Tried to Bring Extinct, Baby-Belching Frogs Back to Life

Gross Science
Gross Science

An estimated 200 frog species have gone extinct since the 1970s. Many of them were likely infected with a fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as the chytrid fungus. The fungus thickens the frogs’ skin, which makes it hard for them to breathe and interferes with their electrolyte balance. The infection can also lead to cardiac arrest.

Some of these ill-fated amphibians belonged to a genus called gastric-brooding frogs. They consisted of two closely related species: the northern (Rheobatrachus vitellinus) and southern (Rheobatrachus silus) gastric brooding frogs, both of which died off by the mid-1980s.

The frogs didn't have a unique appearance, but the females gave birth in a bizarre way: They vomited up their babies. In the video below, Gross Science host Anna Rothschild explains why the gastric brooding frog had such an unusual pregnancy, how its young stayed alive inside the stomach, and why scientists recently tried to bring the infant-belching frog back to life.

[h/t Gross Science]

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History
The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

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science
Why Are Glaciers Blue?
iStock
iStock

The bright azure blue sported by many glaciers is one of nature's most stunning hues. But how does it happen, when the snow we see is usually white? As Joe Hanson of It's Okay to Be Smart explains in the video below, the snow and ice we see mostly looks white, cloudy, or clear because all of the visible light striking its surface is reflected back to us. But glaciers have a totally different structure—their many layers of tightly compressed snow means light has to travel much further, and is scattered many times throughout the depths. As the light bounces around, the light at the red and yellow end of the spectrum gets absorbed thanks to the vibrations of the water molecules inside the ice, leaving only blue and green light behind. For the details of exactly why that happens, check out Hanson's trip to Alaska's beautiful (and endangered) Mendenhall Glacier below.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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