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Gastric Brooding Frog

The Gastric Brooding Frog is a genus of extinct amphibians that consisted of two species, the Northern Gastric Brooding Frog and the Southern Gastric Brooding Frog. They were endemic to a limited region in Australia and went into permanent disappeared in the mid-1980s. Eventually, the IUCN declared it as ‘EX’ (Extinct) after an extensive search for 35 years in all their possible habitats.

Pictures

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Amphibia
Order Anura
Family Myobatrachidae
Subfamily Rheobatrachinae
Genus Rheobatrachus
Species Rheobatrachus silus
Rheobatrachus vitellinus

Quick Facts

Size Southern Gastric Brooding Frog:
Male – 33 to 41 mm (1.3 to 1.6 in);
Female – 44 to 54 mm (1.7 to 2.1 in)
Northern Gastric Brooding Frog:
Male – 50 to 53 mm (2.0 to 2.1 in);
Female – 66 to 79 mm (2.6 to 3.1 in)
Average Lifespan About two years
Location/Distribution & Habitat Creek systems in the rainforests
Climate/Environment Warm tropical
Diet Carnivorous
Locomotion Quadruped

Causes of Extinction

The frog was first discovered in the 1970s, but surprisingly, they vanished from the wild within less than a decade, by the mid-1980s. There have been several explanations to explain their decline, including habitat loss/degradation, pollution, climate change, pathogens, drought, radiation of constantly increasing ultra-violet rays, and parasites.

In this context, it should also be mentioned that a total of fourteen frog species that was endemic to Australia underwent a sudden and drastic decline in population since the end of the 1970s. This evidence supports the fact that there has been a global decline in the amphibian populations.

The exact cause/s for the extinction of the gastric-brooding frogs is/are unknown; however, scientists believe that, one of the strongest suspects that contributed to their extinction is the amphibian chytrid fungus. Recent researches have indicated that the dramatic disappearance of these frog species may be the result of a fungal infection that also led to the extinction of almost two-thirds of the 110 known Harlequin frog species.

A direct threat to their habitats through human interference was not quite obvious, though, but other factors like global changes to air and water quality, and climate change have also contributed to their permanent disappearance.

Physical Description: Differences & Similarities between the Northern & the Southern Gastric Brooding Frogs

The southern gastric-brooding frog had a medium size body with a dull gray to slate coloration with small patches all over the body. They had large bulging eyes positioned closely, and a short, blunt snout. They had long, thin, unwebbed digits and fully webbed toes.

The northern gastric-brooding frog was much larger than their southern counterpart. They were a few shades darker in color, somewhat pale brown, with yellow blotches on their abdomen, the underside of the legs and the arms. The remaining part of the belly was either gray or white in color.

In both species, the females were larger than the males. Both the species had bumpy and moist skin coated with a sluggish mucus.

Behavior

Like the southern population, the northern gastric-brooding frog too was a largely aquatic species. Both the species were mostly diurnal, living close to slow-moving and clear water bodies including streams, the edges of rock pools, under or between crevices of stones and rocks, etc. They were usually active during summer. The specific reproductive behaviors of these frogs are not known since they have not been observed before they went into extinction.

Diet

The northern gastric-brooding frog was observed hunting on small crayfish, larvae of caddisfly, terrestrial and aquatic beetles, as also, the Eungella torrent frog, whereas, the southern population was observed feeding on insects from both the land and water.

Interesting Facts

  • These frogs were unique in a specific reproductive behavior since they are the only known frog species that incubated the pre-juvenile stages of the babies inside the stomach of the female.
  • In March 2013, the biologists at the University of New South Wales and the University of Newcastle announced that these frogs would be the subject of a cloning attempt.

Published on January 2nd 2019 by under Amphibians.
Article was last reviewed on 13th September 2019.

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