Search This Blog & Get A Rife

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Japanese Frog Like A Comic Book Character

It's time to mix real science with stupid jokes.

I have no idea what weirds me out more... the fact that a rare frog called the Otton Frog living on the Amami Islands in southern Japan has spikes that shoot out from its fingers like Wolverine, the Marvel Comics character from Canada OR the fact that they are just discovering this fact NOW.

The Otton Frog (Babina subaspera) is native to Amami Oshima and Kakeromajima in the Ryuku Islands (the Japanese call it the Nansei Islands or the Ryukyu Arc). The islands currently in dispute between China and Japan are just a hair's breath west of theses islands... so their habitat is safe... for now, though your everyday standard deforestation and the accidental introduction of mongooses (mongeese?) to get rid of the snakes - is playing havoc with the frog population.

The standard frogs you and I know have four toes on each foot. This Otton Frog sems to have a fifth toe that hides within the foot, coming out when required... which is apparently only when it's mating or when it's fighting... which as far as I can guess is only aside from eating, pooping and watching stuff while it sits around thinking which one of the other four things it should do next.

The expert on this frog is Iwai Noriko from the University of Tokyo. Cool. A woman who likes frogs. I hate frogs. I hate touching them. But I like women.I like touching them.

She recently discovered that the Otton Frog has spikes that protrude from a false thumb. While both males and females have them, it appears as though only the males utilize them.

Unfortunately, I'm guessing this frog does not emit a cool sound effect like SNIKT when its claws pop out.

When the claws do pop out, the male frogs attempt to jab one another... or the male frog tries to jab the female so that he can hold on for dear life while copulating, as apparently frogs are all slimy and like to hop around while caroling - which is what I call having sex in the winter time while going door to door... not that these frogs are doing that. Strike that part.

The Otton Frog shares the rare fifth digit with the five-fingered Hypsiboas rosenbergi frogs of Latin America... which makes you wonder how two species of frog could evolve with the same trait but be from so far away from each other. And with no other similar frog species in between.

"Why these 'fifth fingers' exist in some species remains an evolutionary mystery, but the extra digit of the Otton is in fact a pseudo-thumb," Iwai says. "The digit encases a sharp spine which can project out of the skin, which fieldwork demonstrates is used for combat and mating."

Iwai has studied the Otton Frog since 2004, examining its distribution, breeding habits and range-all factors which will contribute to any conservation strategy.

But ... she is either ONLY just realizing the frog has an extra thumb OR is only just releasing that information.

So... the frog has an extra thumb that is hidden in the frogs hand... only popping out when it's laying the smack down on the boys or getting bizz-zay with the lady horny toads...

No surprise here: male Otton Frogs were found to have larger pseudo-thumbs than the females and Iwai believes that the spikes evolved for anchoring to the female, known as amplexus—in Latin, it means 'embrace'—during mating.

Even if it weren't larger, the male would lie about it.

Here is a brief video showing Otton Frogs have a short brawl. VIDEO

And... in case you missed it, allow me to present the dialogue you would have heard had you been able to speak Japanese - they are Japanese frogs, afterall.

"You know we're being filmed, right?"
"So... do you want to make our own sex tape?"
"I'm supposed to be on top!"
"No! I'm on top!"
"I shall stab you with my thumb spike!"
"OW! I'm going to stab you with my thumb spike! Iku-iku!"
"Oh crap! You're a guy!"
"Oh God... you're a guy, too? I think I'll stab myself... "

And that's what you miss when you aren't around me enough. Stupid mutant frogs.
Andrew Joseph


  1. ”which as far as I can guess is only aside from eating, pooping and watching stuff while it sits around thinking which one of the other four things it should do next. " That's hilarious.... Yes, that they are just discovering this is weird.... That's Japan for you.... Say! Someone should blog about this!!!! Chuckle!!!

    1. Thanks, Mike. It's 2:45AM and I should get to sleep before the wife has to get up to go to a hospital to work as a student for the day. I think she's up in two hours. Ugh... when that alarm goes off, I get up. Grab a few more hours of sleep and then the boy wakes me up to get him breakfast. I wish I had a wolverine spike to make people let me sleep in!