via Atlantic Cities
It’s time for another visit to the Department of Awesome Natural Wonders. These pretty amphibians with perfectly transparent underbellies are called Glass frogs. They live in the cloud forests of South america, are one of the relatively small number of species where the fathers exclusively care for the young, and scientists are still trying to figure out why they evolved to have transparent tummies.
Complete transparency has evolved multiple independent times. This suggests that a translucent underbelly provides some evolutionary advantage. Juan Manuel Guayasamin, an evolutionary biologist who studies glassfrogs extensively as a researcher at Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica’s Center for Research on Biodiversity and Climate Change, explains:
“Most frogs are not transparent because this would expose organs to the deleterious effects of sunlight and heat.” But in transparent glassfrogs, key organs like the liver and digestive tract are covered by a thin layer of light-reflecting organelles called iridiphores. These iridescent cellular subunits may provide a layer of protection from heat and sunlight, a feature that Guayasamin says could give glassfrogs the ability to optimize their internal homeostasis by simply moving about, “covering each organ at a time, as opposed to the entire body cavity.”
Guayasamin says another hypothesis holds that transparency evolved to help glassfrogs avoid predators (an ability commonly referred to as “crypsis”). ”Most glassfrogs are green and reflect light almost as a leaf. For predators (and amphibiologists), it is quite difficult to find a glassfrog if it is not, for example, calling.”
You can even see their hearts beating inside their bodies. That’s pretty awesome.
We see right through you, little glass frogs.
Print this out. Keep it in your wallet. Be prepared to tell the difference between a dolphin and porpoise.
Smithsonian museum specialist Sandra Raredon has been making radiographs, or X-ray images, for some 25 years. And although she doesn’t necessarily consider herself an artist, per se, she’s not surprised to see her work on display in that context. “I wanted people to see that they’re not only scientific, but they’re beautiful as well,” she says on the phone.
How Dogs Evolved Into Our Best Friends: “There’s something about them that makes us friends with them. There are people who dislike dogs for sure. But dogs also have an uncanny ability … to walk in a room and pick out the one or two who seem to dislike dogs the most and make friends with them. It’s happened to me with some of my dogs on numerous occasions. I think there’s a deep — some people call it love, I call it a ‘deep empathy’ between these two species — that resonates with each other in a way that makes them comprehensible to each other even though they don’t speak the same language.”
Tomorrow: the history of dogs in the Americas.
fun girl (by saikiishiki)
Happy Weekend! See you Monday!
Yawning koala bear (by National Media Museum)
Gives one reason to paws. (Happy weekend!)
Dogs On Fresh Air:
The Zoo has a flock of 64 flamingos. Just before the quake, the birds rushed about and grouped themselves together. They remained huddled during the quake.
— The National Zoo released a press release about changes in animal behavior right before yesterday’s earthquake. [Obviously the press release was sent after.]