A tiny frog discovered in the rain forests of Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island is the only frog known to give birth to live tadpoles. Of the roughly 6,000 frogs known in the world, about a dozen species fertilize their eggs internally. A handful give birth to froglets, and a few lay fertilized eggs.
The newly described frog, named Limnonectes larvaepartus, was first discovered in 1998 by Djoko Iskandar, a zoologist at the Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia. The frog weighs just two-tenths of an ounce, or about as much as a nickel. At the time, Iskandar noticed that the frogs appeared to be laying tadpoles, but he was not able to identify the species.
The frog belongs to a group known as fanged frogs because of two projections from their lower jaws used for fighting. Although the researchers know of at least 15 other species of fanged frogs on Sulawesi, Limnonectes larvaepartus is only the fourth to be formally described.
The bloom is in for maple syrup
Pancake lovers, take heart. In the coming weeks, maple farmers throughout Quebec, Vermont and elsewhere in the syrup belt will dust off their metal spiles for another harvest season, and some scientists are predicting that the sugary sap will flow even more freely than usual. That’s because this year, the region is likely to have what is known in botany as a mast year — a time every few years when perennial trees such as sugar maples synchronize their seed cycles and flower as one.
Low-seed years usually lead to mass blooms and may bode particularly well for the maple syrup industry. In a paper published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, ecologists at Tufts University near Boston suggest that syrup and seed production are linked. Because 2014 was a low seed year for maples, the scientists reason, maple trees invested spare energy into producing more carbohydrates. This year, the trees will use those carbs to flower — and fill sugar makers’ pails with rich, sweet sap.
Drunk finches have slurred songs
Sometimes science means getting a bunch of finches sloshed. Or at least giving them blood alcohol levels of around 0.08 percent, which is pretty crazy by bird standards.
In a study published in PLOS ONE, researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University tempted zebra finches with spiked juice in order to learn more about human speech.
If you’ve ever talked to someone under the influence of alcohol, you know that it makes speech more difficult. But there hasn’t been much research on vocal impairment caused by alcohol. “A lot of animals just won’t touch the stuff,” researcher Christopher Olson told NPR. But once the birds were buzzed, they started to slur their songs, which got quieter and less organized. But not all parts of the song were equally affected. The researchers think this might mean that alcohol affects certain parts of the birds’ brain circuitry more profoundly than others.