First fluorescent frogs might see each others’ glow | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.


It's Alive

First fluorescent frogs might see each others’ glow

Natural Day-Glo may play a role in amphibian’s fights and flirtations

By
10:00am, April 3, 2017
polka dot frog

NATURAL DAY-GLO  A polka dot frog, the first amphibian shown to fluoresce under ultraviolet light, has complex courtship and male fights.

Could fluorescence matter to a frog? Carlos Taboada wondered. They don’t have bedroom black lights, but their glow may still be about the night moves.

Taboada’s question is new to herpetology. No one had shown fluorescence in amphibians, or in any land vertebrate except parrots, until he and colleagues recently tested South American polka dot tree frogs. Under white light, male and female Hypsiboas punctatus frogs have translucent skin speckled with dark dots. But when the researchers spotlighted the frogs with an ultraviolet flashlight, the animals glowed blue-green. The intensity of the glow was “shocking,” says Taboada of the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia” in Buenos Aires.

And it is true fluorescence. Compounds in the frogs’ skin and lymph absorb the energy of shorter UV wavelengths and release it in longer

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content