Weird Animals – The Gastric Brooding Frog
Weird Animals – the Gastric Brooding Frog
Now I have achieved a tremendous breakthrough. I have interviewed a deceased … celebrated … weird … animal. Not just any weird animal. But the fascinating one-of-a-kind gastric brooding frog.
It was late in the evening and I was adjusting my brain wave apparatus which receives signals from chosen subjects throughout the world. I cannot reveal much about its composition – WikiLeaks would kill for that information ... but aluminum foil is a major component. Suddenly, I heard this tiny little amphibian voice:
That's me next to the large paper clip.
Are you there, drbj? Are you there?
Where was this voice coming from? It wasn’t an insomniac neighbor or my landline, my cellphone, my imitation iPad, my computer, or my television.
I realized someone or something was trying to contact me – supernaturally. Here is our conversation, verbatim:
me – This is drbj. Who is this and why are you calling me at midnight?
Voice – This is the last Gastric Brooding Frog. Sorry about the lateness of the hour. Time is no longer of the essence to me. I have a story that Basil said you would like to hear.
me – Basil?
Voice – You know, Basil, the Green Basilisk Lizard you recently interviewed. The one who walks on water that the natives in Costa Rica call the ‘Jesus Christ Lizard.’
me – Oh, right, that Basil. Please give him my regards and tell me your story, Mr. Gastric Brooding Frog.
Voice – It’s Ms. Gastric Brooding Frog. My scientific name is Rheobatrachus silus but you may call me Distressed, or D for short.
me – Distressed? I’m sorry to hear that.
D – You would be, too, if you were not only deceased but also extinct.
me – I’m sorry to hear that, too. What happened?
The Story of D
D – Once upon a time there were two species of gastric brooding frogs living in Queensland, eastern Australia – the Northern branch and the Southern branch. We were very different in appearance from other frogs. And extremely unique in behavior.
me – How was your behavior so unique?
D – I’ll explain in a moment. As far as appearance, I was a Southerner, y’all, so I was smaller than my Northern cousins.
me – How small is small?
D – Female frogs like me reached 2 inches in length; males 1½ inches. Northern females let themselves go – they reached 3 inches in length; males 2 inches. In both species, the ladies were larger than the guys. For a very good reason. We have an astounding ability …
me – Which was … ?
D – I’m getting to that. We were considered medium-size frogs with dark gray or slate-colored bumpy skin. Our fingers were long, pointy and slender without webbing although our toes were fully webbed. Just like most other Australian aquatic frogs.
me – So, how did you differ in appearance?
D – Our most distinctive feature was our way-out-of-proportion, large protruding eyes which were positioned very close together behind our short blunt snout. We looked like we were wearing headlights.
Also our skin was moist and coated with mucus. Insensitive people used labels and called us slimy.
me – Now tell me more about your unique behavior.
D – We lived in rainforests and our favorite habitat was the edge of rock pools in shallow streams, among leaf litter, under or between stones, or in rock crevices. We ate all the insects that we could find on land and in the water.
In the colder months, we hibernated … and caught up on our reading. I was very disappointed by “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
me – How so?
D – I heard it used a lot of ‘f-words’ and thought that meant ‘frog.’ (laughs)
me – (chuckling in spite of myself) Okay, enough procrastination. What is the extremely unique behavior you mentioned?
D – Take a moment to think about our name: the Gastric Brooding Frog. What do you think that means?
Funny Frog Plush Toy
It's me regurgitating a baby frog.
me – Well, gastric relates to or involves the stomach. Brooding, as an adjective, means to show deep unhappiness by being dejected, despondent and/or depressed. Which you admit you are. As a verb it means to sit on or hatch eggs.
D – Correct! We female Gastric Brooding Frogs are known for our unique mode of reproduction. We do hatch our baby eggs but not by sitting on them. After external fertilization by the daddy frog, we swallow our eggs.
me – (amazed) You actually swallow them? For real?
D – Would I lie to you? Yes, absolutely real. We produce as many as 40 eggs, and raise the baby tadpoles in our stomach which becomes a temporary womb.
When they are ready to hatch, we give birth by regurgitating our little froggy babies from our mouths.
What is Gerd?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic symptom of mucosal damage caused by stomach acid coming up from the stomach into the esophagus. In the U.S., 20% or 7 million people suffer from this disease.
me – Unique isn’t a strong enough description. That is positively miraculous. How can the eggs survive in the acid environment of your stomach?
D – That’s a very good question. During the brooding stage, we do not eat and our stomachs temporarily stop producing normal hydrochloric acid.
me – Unbelievable. How do you accomplish that feat?
D – When we swallow the fertilized eggs, prostaglandin (PGE2) in the jelly around each egg turns off the production of stomach acid while the embryonic eggs develop into tadpoles. Later, the mucus excreted from the tadpoles' gills continues to supply the PGE2 we need.
Important Note: This acid-free condition of the Gastric Brooding Frog may one day provide insight to physicians on the treatment of stomach ulcers and GERD which are so prevalent in humans.
me – Do all of the 40 or so eggs you swallow become tadpoles?
D – Only 20 to 26 of the eggs generally survive.
me – Because they exhaust their yolk supply?
D – No, each egg has more than enough yolk to feed the growing tadpole. But sometimes, by accident, I digest the first few eggs I swallow. Mea culpa. Mea culpa.
me – Don’t feel guilty, please. Your parental ability is amazing. How long does it take for the tadpoles to develop in your stomach?
D – About six weeks. My stomach continues to increase until it almost fills my body cavity. I remain active but cut down on my dance lessons. (Giggles)
When the tadpoles are completely developed, I regurgitate them over a period of time that may take as long as one week. If I am disturbed, I may regurgitate all my youngsters in one single act of propulsive vomiting.
me – Does that harm them?
D – No, they are fully developed and off they hop. I’m an ‘empty nester,’ I mean empty stomach, once again. I can resume eating after three or four days. And dancing.
me – I know that you are distressed because both species of Gastric Brooding Frogs are believed to be extinct. No one has seen you-all since the early 80s.
D – What is most distressing is that the cause is unknown. The suspects include pollution, parasites, the destructive chytrid fungus, loss of habitat, and over-eager collectors like Kermit the Frog.
The part about rapacious collectors is true but I’m just kidding about Kermit. He’s a buddy of mine.
Return of the Baby Belching Frog
me – Isn't it amazing that in March of this year, Australian scientists made such an unbelievable presentation to the National Geographic Society?
They successfully re-constructed your embryos by combining your preserved genetic DNA with the eggs of a related species, the Great Barred Frog.
D – That IS jolly good news.
me – The bad news is that the new embryos only survived for three days. But the researchers are optimistic about the possibility of bringing your species back to life soon.
D – I do appreciate your sharing that and eagerly look forward to that day. I’ll say good-bye for now the Gastric Frog Way: ‘eeeeeehm ... eeeeeehm … eeeeeehm.’
me – ‘eeeeeehm … eeeeeehm … eeeeeehm’ to you, too, my friend. Is that like ‘ribbit, ribbit, ribbit’ we hear from American frogs?
D – Don’t think so; I learned it from my folks. Though I really don’t have a clue. Let’s just say it means ‘Hooroo!’’
Hooroo is strine (Australian slang) for Goodbye.
I must contact D immediately to share this news. There is a frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) living in the South American jungle that was originally discovered by Charles Darwin.
This intriguing frog has a very similar child-rearing technique. It scoops up newly hatched tadpoles and stores them inside its specially adapted vocal pouch. When they are fully formed froglets, they are expelled (vomited) just like the Gastric Brooding Frog. But the Darwin Frog is male! Would they not make a perfect couple?
More Interviews with Weird Animals
- Interview with Proboscis Monkey
Plato, the Proboscis Monkey, was offended because I interviewed the Hippopotamus and not him. So I gave him an interview and he shared some stunning personal information.
- Interview with Banana Spider
How do you feel about spiders? You know - those bug-bodied, spindly-legged arachnids with eight hairy legs? Wait until you discover what the Brazilian Wandering (Banana) Spider can do. Unbelievable!
© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2013. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."
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