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Break a Leg and Fight!: The Hairy Frog (Trichobatrachus robustus)
Hairy Frogs or Trichobatrachus robustus are large, terrestrial frog species found in west central Africa. Their discovery gained worldwide attention as they are found to exhibit one of the weirdest defense mechanism in the animal kingdom.
When in apparent danger, these frogs intentionally break the sharp pointed tip bone on their toes pushing it to burst out of their skin to appear and function like claws for fighting and damaging threats. These skin punctures are instant fresh wounds on their part, making this move a really bizarre way of equipping ones self to fight.
Harvard University biologists investigated and found that these bones in the frog’s toes were actually hooked in shape,perfectly resembling claws for battle. But these are not real claws like that of the cats, only pure bones free of the keratin sheath that normally surrounds vertebrate claws. Furthermore they identified that these tip bones in the frogs' feet were connected via a collagen-rich sheath to the rest of the toe.
It appears that this sheath holds the skin in place in relation to the tip bone and when the frog felt danger he flexes a certain muscle in his foot that separates the sharp tip bone from the rest of the toe nodules and bursts it through the skin into the open.
Whoever wants to get hurt bring it on! This action reminds me of someone who likely gains his fame through the same fighting feat. He looks like the famous claw raging mutant below:
These creatures are characterized by a large broadened head, short rounded snout, smooth skin and robust limbs. Their nostrils are located nearer to their eyes than their snout. Their first and third fingers are comparably larger than the rest and some hair-like appendages grows along the thighs and flanks of the males of the species.
Their males are larger than females. Though, terrestrial, they return to waters for breeding and like other frogs they lay their eggs near watery areas.
Another amazing behaviors of this frog is that males are found to exercise care and raring for his eggs by staying near them and protecting them for an extended period of time after being laid by females.
They are carnivorous since their tadpole times, where they appear muscular and were found to have grown rows of little horned teeth. As adults they feed on grass hoppers, myriapods, slugs, beetles and small spiders. They grow to sizes up to 98 to 130mm.
People in Cameroon, Central Africa roast and eat these frogs. Though lowly amphibians, these frogs now becomes highly respected as hunters in Cameroon defensively use spears and machetes in catching them to avoid any possibly contacts.