The Hairy Frog is a species of frogs associated with the Central African region. It belongs to the Arthroleptidae family, the genus Trichobatrachus, and is scientifically referred to as Trichobatrachus robustus (Wells 53). Its name originated from the presence of hair-like structures that appear on the body and thighs of males.
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One of the most unique adaptations of the Wolverine Frog is its natural ability to break its own bones in order to unleash a sharp claw that offers protection against predators (Iszatt par. 3). This claw is located on its feet and only appears when the frog is in danger of attack. It releases the claw by contracting the muscles in its rear feet and causing the claw to appear by piercing the frog’s skin (Wood 23). Another adaptation is the presence of hairy strands on males during the breeding season (“The Cabinet of Freshwater Curiosities: The Hairy Frog” par. 2). The strands (papillae) are an adaptation that allows the frogs to breathe for longer periods underwater while protecting unhatched eggs from predators (Wells 48). The papillae facilitate a process known as cutaneous respiration.
The environment of the frog comprises rivers, streams, and dense forests (Bartlett and Bartlett 29). The frogs are terrestrial for most of the year and relocate to freshwater habitats during the breeding season. The Hairy Frog is common in Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Cameroon (Wells 36). Its habitat includes fast-flowing rivers and streams as well as agricultural land. Therefore, their environment comprises both terrestrial and freshwater habitats.
Reasons for choosing the Hairy Frog
I chose the Hairy Frog because of its unique adaptation of possessing claw-like terminal phalanges on its hind feet that only appear during moments of danger (Iszatt par. 3). In addition, the claws cut through the skin and retract afterwards. The process of revealing and retracting the claws is a strange phenomenon that is not observed in any other animal species. This adaptation is also found in some frogs that belong to the Astylosternus genus (Brahic par. 6). In frog’s that have a similar defense mechanism, the bony spines grow through the skin and project outwards from the wrists. Unlike in Trichobatrachus robustus, the spines of other frogs are permanently fixed on the wrists (Brahic par. 7). They do not pierce the skin as in the case of the Hairy Frog.
- Evolutionary phylogeny
- Belongs to the Trichobatrachus genus
- Classified under the Arthroleptidae family.
- Related to the species Leptopelis palmatus.
- Related to the family Hyperrolidae (Sedge and bush frogs). Subfamilies include Anthroleptinae, Astylosterninae, and Leptopelinae.
- The Hairy Frog is found in both terrestrial and freshwater habitats.
- It inhabits terrestrial environments for most of the year.
- It relocates to freshwater habitats for breeding.
- Common in Central African countries including Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea.
- Selection pressures
- The population of T. robustus is declining substantially. This is due to loss of habitat and widespread deforestation (Bartlett and Bartlett 31). The species has been identified as endangered and it is therefore, on the verge of extinction.
- The frog possesses sharp claws on hind legs: the claws offer protection from predators (Bartlett and Bartlett 29). It breaks its bones to produce the claws.
- Hairy strands (papillae) on breeding males enhance cutaneous respiration when they are protecting eggs from predators (“The Cabinet of Freshwater Curiosities: The Hairy Frog” par. 2).
Bartlett, Richard, and P. Bartlett. Frogs, Toads, and Treefrogs: Everything about Selection, Care, Nutrition, Breeding, and Behavior. New York: Barron Educational Series, 2007. Print.
Brahic, Catherine. “Horror Frog” Breaks Own Bones to Produce Claws. 2008. Web.
The Cabinet of Freshwater Curiosities: The Hairy Frog 2011. Web.
Wells, K. D. (2010). The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010. Print.
Wood, Alix. Weird Animals in the Wild. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2013. Print.