Frogs can learn the scent of danger before they hatch

December 8th, 2008 - 1:30 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 8 (ANI): A new research has revealed that frogs can learn the scent of danger before they hatch, which gives tadpoles a head start in evading predators.

According to a report in New Scientist, Maud Ferrari at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and her team, conducted the research.

The team tested whether wood frog eggs could be primed to detect a predators scent.

They bathed the eggs in water that had previously contained fire-bellied newts. Half the eggs were also given a whiff of danger, in the form of an infusion of crushed-up tadpoles, whose death is marked by chemical signals.

After the eggs hatched, the researchers gave the tadpoles a second burst of newt odour.

Tadpoles whose experience of newt had been accompanied by the odour of dead tadpoles, froze in place, which is considered a classic defence against predators.

Those that had not had this training continued swimming as normal.

In a second study, Ferraris team showed that without encountering the smell of danger while frogspawn, frogs deem the newt odour as safe and are unable to associate it with danger thereafter.

The studies are the first to show that animals can learn the smell of a predator as embryos.

The team has preliminary evidence that fish can do it too, suggesting the ability may be widespread. (ANI)

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