5 Weird Looking (But Fascinating!) Frogs

These aren't your run-of-the-mill amphibians; these frogs are downright freaky.

1. Purple Frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis)

The purple frog, native to India's Western Ghats, is also sometimes called the pignose frog. It spends all but two weeks of the year—monsoon season—more than 26 feet underground, feeding on termites and emerging only to mate. Which apparently isn't easy for these frogs: Two purple frogs were recently caught mating on video for the first time ever, and—thanks to their wide bodies and stubby legs, which are well evolved for life underground, and not so much for getting it on—it involves a lot of scrambling on the male's part as he attempts to get on the much-larger female's back and hang on. You can see the video of the frogs doing their thing here.

2. Black Rain Frog (Breviceps fuscus)

Breviceps fuscus has what humans might call "resting bitch face"—in fact, it's often called the world's grumpiest frog. (In a funny twist, its cousin, Breviceps macrops, has actually been dubbed the world's cutest frog, thanks in part to the little squeaks it makes. Go figure!) This 2-inch-long burrowing amphibian, which is capable of digging tunnels nearly 6 inches deep, is native to the southern coast of Africa. When threatened, they'll puff themselves up so that they look bigger; sometimes they'll do this while they're burrowing so that whatever's after them can't pull them out. These guys know how to make mating go smoothly: The females secrete a sticky substance on their backs so the males don't fall off while the act is taking place; then, he'll hang out in the burrow and guard the eggs.

3. Surinam Toad (Pipa Pipa)

Don't let its name fool you: This animal, found in South American rain forests, is actually considered an aquatic frog. Seven to eight inches long, brown, and flat (in fact, it's one of the world's flattest amphibians), the Surinam toad blends in perfectly with muddy river bottoms. The reproductive cycle of these frogs is definitely a strange affair: The male calls to the female underwater with a clicking sound; she releases 60 to 100 eggs into the water, which the male fertilizes and pushes into her back. Her skin grows up over the eggs until they're entirely enclosed. The young hatch and ride on her back for up to four months as they develop. When they're ready, the toadlets push to loosen the female's skin, pockets on her back open up, and the young pop out. To breed again, she sheds her skin.

4. Hairy Frog (Trichobatrachus robustus)

Gustavocarra / Creative Commons License

This frog is also sometimes called the Horror Frog, and for good reason: When threatened, it breaks its own toes to produce claws, which puncture its toe pads on its hind feet, and uses them as weapons. Breeding males will grow hair-like strands on their sides that are actually skin and arteries, which might allow them to take in additional oxygen from the water while they're guarding their young.

5. Turtle Frog (Myobatrachus gouldii)

The Western Australian Museum calls this odd little Aussie native, the only species in its genus, "a very peculiar frog with a body shape superficially resembling a small turtle with its shell removed." Unlike most frogs, which burrow back into the ground using their hind legs, M. gouldii burrows forward through sandy soils with its muscular arms. The frogs, which can grow to nearly two inches long, don't need water to reproduce; instead, a male will dig a burrow almost 4 feet deep and call to the female from there. After several months of cohabitating, they'll mate and she'll lay as many as 50 eggs in the burrow. The young skip the tadpole stage and instead stay in the eggs, emerging as tiny, fully formed frogs.

Courtesy of The National Aviary
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.


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