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posted by janrinok on Friday March 27 2015, @05:04AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the kamouflaged-kermit dept.

Carrie Arnold reports at National Geographic that on a nighttime walk through Reserva Las Gralarias in Ecuador in 2009, Katherine Krynak spotted a well-camouflaged, marble-size amphibian that was covered in spines. The next day, Krynak pulled the frog from the cup and set it on a smooth white sheet of plastic for Tim to photograph. It wasn't "punk "--it was smooth-skinned. She assumed that, much to her dismay, she must have picked up the wrong frog. "I then put the frog back in the cup and added some moss," says Krynak. "The spines came back... we simply couldn't believe our eyes, our frog changed skin texture! I put the frog back on the smooth white background. Its skin became smooth."

Krynak didn't find another punk rocker frog until 2009, three years after the first sighting. The second animal was covered in thorny spines, like the first, but they had disappeared when she took a closer look. The team then took photos of the shape-shifting frog every ten seconds for several minutes, watching the spines form and then slowly disappear. It's unclear how the frog forms these spines so quickly, or what they're actually made of. The discovery of a variable species poses challenges to amphibian taxonomists and field biologists, who have traditionally used skin texture and presence/absence of tubercles as important discrete traits in diagnosing and identifying species. The discovery illustrates the importance of describing the behavior of new species, and bolsters the argument for preserving amphibian habitats, says Krynak. "Amphibians are declining so rapidly that scientists are oftentimes describing new species from museum specimens because the animals have already gone extinct in the wild, and very recently."

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27 2015, @05:59AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27 2015, @05:59AM (#163112)

    All taxonomy should be phylogenetic.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by dare on Friday March 27 2015, @07:00AM

      by dare (307) on Friday March 27 2015, @07:00AM (#163122) Homepage

      And it is, as a science. However, field biology isn't quite there yet. In the field you still mostly identify species by how they look.

      There is a project to change this, however, as DNA sequencing becomes ever easier. There was a project (by these guys, http://www.barcodeoflife.org/ [barcodeoflife.org] , if I remember it correctly) to build a handheld scanner; you'd just give it a tiny tissue sample of whatever species you with to identify, like one you could swab with a q-tip or something, and it would identify the species for you based on its DNA.

      (One of the bug researchers at the natural history museum I work at said that in 7-8 years when the device is introuduced and stable, he'd challenge it to a contest of beetle identification, and was willing to bet that he'd still identify more beetles. Could have been just boasting; I'm not a biologist so I wouldn't know.)

      --
      From bad to worse in .2 seconds!
      • (Score: 5, Funny) by Phoenix666 on Friday March 27 2015, @09:39AM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday March 27 2015, @09:39AM (#163143) Journal

        a handheld scanner; you'd just give it a tiny tissue sample of whatever species you with to identify, like one you could swab with a q-tip or something, and it would identify the species for you based on its DNA.

        I could also see that being quite useful in a Missouri bar to make sure the girl you're picking up on is not also your cousin.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 4, Touché) by dublet on Friday March 27 2015, @01:20PM

          by dublet (2994) on Friday March 27 2015, @01:20PM (#163179)

          You may mock but something like this exists for Icelandic people, though not based on DNA samples: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-24304415 [bbc.com]

          • (Score: 3, Funny) by Phoenix666 on Friday March 27 2015, @04:11PM

            by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday March 27 2015, @04:11PM (#163218) Journal

            Also for Jews who may be carriers of Tay-Sachs disease [jewishgenetics.org]. But it's more fun to make fun of people from the Ozarks; plus, one branch of my family is from there so I'm allowed.

            Besides nobody makes fun of Icelanders.

            --
            Washington DC delenda est.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 28 2015, @12:07AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 28 2015, @12:07AM (#163368)

            why do we need to scan? abortion is there for a reasn

  • (Score: 2) by Hyper on Friday March 27 2015, @06:13AM

    by Hyper (1525) on Friday March 27 2015, @06:13AM (#163113)

    Tough to capture mid woge [wikia.com]

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by aristarchus on Friday March 27 2015, @08:34AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Friday March 27 2015, @08:34AM (#163132) Journal

    Poses Problems for Taxonomists

    Not to mention for taxidermists! Hold still, dammit!

    --
    Runaway: Mentally Unfit!
  • (Score: 2) by nishi.b on Friday March 27 2015, @09:15AM

    by nishi.b (4243) on Friday March 27 2015, @09:15AM (#163136)
    Interesting, but not unique; for example the octopus can dynamically change color and texture of its skin, which seems similar to what is shown in the frog images. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgHjv7Cz34s [youtube.com] at 1:25 for example.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by jimshatt on Friday March 27 2015, @09:15AM

    by jimshatt (978) on Friday March 27 2015, @09:15AM (#163137) Journal
    Octopuses and squid can do this and I don't hear anybody complaining. Also, one of the article talks about the frog "growing" spines, but this is clearly not the case. No new tissue is made by the frog (as far as I can tell). So in the end it's just a case of "oh noes, one moment its leg was straight and now its bent so I can't tell if it's a straight-legged or a bent-legged frog!!!"

    Grow a spine and get on with your job, for science's sake.
    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Friday March 27 2015, @12:27PM

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Friday March 27 2015, @12:27PM (#163165) Homepage
      Indeed, and where does "a variable species" come into things? If you judge species by appearance, then you should be an anthropologist. In the nineteenth century.
      --
      I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Jesus_666 on Friday March 27 2015, @06:29PM

      by Jesus_666 (3044) on Friday March 27 2015, @06:29PM (#163269)
      The big surprise does not come from the fact that an animal can change the texture of its skin. It comes from the fact that a vertebrate can do so, which had previously not been observed.

      Let's make a computer analogy: Imagine that you're dealing with a new processor you know little about. It implements the x86 instruction set and is perfectly compatible except for one thing: It boots into protected mode. This would trip you up, not because a processor boots into a mode with protected memory but because an x86 chip does so.

      "Vertebrates can't change their skin texture" had, until now, seemed like a perfectly reasonable assumption. Now that this assumption has been disproven, the known difficulty of classifying amphibians in the field has increased. And that's noteworthy.


      (I know you were most likely joking but you did get modded Interesting so I thought I'd spell it out.)
    • (Score: 3, Touché) by DeathMonkey on Friday March 27 2015, @07:18PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Friday March 27 2015, @07:18PM (#163293) Journal

      Octopuses and squid can do this and I don't hear anybody complaining.
       
      And birds can fly. It would probably be noteworth if a frog was observed doing so.

  • (Score: 1) by MostCynical on Friday March 27 2015, @10:34AM

    by MostCynical (2589) on Friday March 27 2015, @10:34AM (#163155)

    Used to be easy - ugly ones were toads.
    Turns out, they are all frogs.
    (And none of them is a cursed prince)

    --
    Books are a poor substitute for female companionship, but they are easier to find. P Rothfuss “The Wise Man's Fear"
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by WizardFusion on Friday March 27 2015, @12:46PM

      by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 27 2015, @12:46PM (#163168) Journal

      (And none of them is a cursed prince)

      Are you sure, have you kissed them all.?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27 2015, @01:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27 2015, @01:39PM (#163181)

        I for one welcome our new frad (or was that "toog") over/underlords.

  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27 2015, @02:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27 2015, @02:28PM (#163191)

    Another rerun of old news.