May 18, 2017 12:24 PM EDT
Splash-back poison frog tadpoles have poisonous siblings who are waiting to pounce on them to eat them. In order to escape from these cannibalistic siblings, the tadpole will simply jump on the backs of adults within their distance.
The research was carried out by experts from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Trier University, Germany. Their paper was published in the Journal of Zoology. Lisa Schulte and Michael Mayer set up a field laboratory in northeastern Peru and studied the Splash-back poison frog tadpoles' behavior.
The strange journey of the splash-back poison tadpoles begins right after birth. The females lay their eggs on plants rising above the water line. After the tadpoles hatch, they drop off into a pool of water and suddenly begin to confront each other unless they are moved away.
The frog father turns up and bends down to take on a few of the tadpoles who scramble on his back. He then moves to another pool and releases his tadpoles. He makes a number of trips to disperse his Splash-back poison frog tadpoles. Still, he might sometimes ignore them all, which just makes them all begin to eat each other until just one tadpole is left, according to Phys.org.
However, if a frog that is not a parent swims in, the tadpoles can still hop onto his back in the hope that they can escape. To study the Splash-back poison frog tadpoles, the experts put them in pools and decided to examine and study them when other parents or species were introduced.
Experts found that the Splash-back poison frog tadpoles simply swam towards adults of any gender, even if they belonged to other species. Some of the tadpoles tried to jump on the back of the adult. The frogs did not get fooled, though, by 3-D printed frogs, as none of the splash-back poison frog tadpoles swam toward the models. Hence, experts decided that the tadpoles can run away from their siblings by any means necessary in order to escape.
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