The pumpkin toadlet has high hopes when it leaps into the air. Unfortunately, for this honeybee-size frog, landings aren’t the prettiest. Researchers were intrigued by this species of frog and its “unique” jumping pattern.
Video footage reveals these itty-bitty vertebrates go rigid and tumble through space once their toes leave the earth. Apparently, the ability to jump evolved earlier than the ability to land in several species of frogs. Due to their miniature size and evolutionary addition of bony armor, these crash landings are not as harmful to the toadlet as one might think.
Suspicions regarding the size and effectiveness of the pumpkin toadlet’s vestibular system came to light after the author’s found a study in which the inner ears of a different species of frogs were ablated and showed similar landing patterns. After analyzing the vestibular systems of 147 different species of frogs, the authors concluded that the fearless jumper’s semicircular canals were so constricted, it reduced the functional endolymph flow, making angular acceleration detection inefficient.
Essner R, Pereira R, Blackburn D, et al. (2022) Semicircular canal size constraints vestibular function in miniaturized frogs. Sci Adv 8(24). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn1104
Imbler S. (2022) Why Is This Tiny Frog So Awful At Jumping? Defector. (accessed June 17, 2022).
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