How ‘frog architects’ build floating foam nests

January 31st, 2010 - 4:50 pm ICT by ANI  

London, January 31 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have found out that frogs perform the architectural feat of building floating foam nests using a meticulously timed, three-stage construction process. Tungara frogs, like many frogs species, create foam nests to protect their young as they mature from eggs to tadpoles. But while these floating meringue-like refuges look delicate, as if they could collapse into the pond they sit upon at any moment, they are in fact remarkably sturdy.According to Malcolm Kennedy from the University of Glasgow, “These are exposed to full sunlight, high temperatures, all kinds of infections, including parasitic ones, and yet they survive for four days without any damage, until the tadpoles leave.” “And unlike other foams, they do not damage the membranes of eggs and sperm. They are a remarkable biological material,” he said. “But until now, we did not now quite how the frogs used these material and made the foams,” he added. According to a report by BBC News, to find out more, the research team went to Trinidad in the West Indies to train their cameras on amorous pairs of Tungara frogs. By studying the footage, frame by frame, the researchers found that the small brown amphibians whipped up their nests in several phases. “In order to begin, the male sits on the back of the female, and puts his legs underneath her legs, to collect a foam-precursor fluid,” Professor Kennedy explained. The male frog then begins to whip this up, mixing in air bubbles by vigorously kicking his legs. He does this in short bursts, gradually increasing this “mixing” duration each time. “This overcomes some of the biophysical problems; if he mixes for too long in the beginning, then this would disperse the fluid and it wouldn’t make a foam at all,” said Professor Kennedy. In this first phase, this frothy bubble raft contains no eggs. But as the male moves on to stage two of construction, he gradually begins to blend in eggs, provided by the female, who is all the while sitting beneath him. He carefully maneuvers the eggs into the centre of the foam. “They do this about 200 times. Eventually, they build this ‘meringue’,” Professor Kennedy said. Finally, in the “termination stage”, the frog starts to slow down. The period between each mixing session gradually increases until finally the nest is complete. The team believes that understanding this nest building process could help scientists create “bio-foams” for use in medical applications, such as treating injuries at the scenes of accidents. (ANI)

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health Science |