There’s a certain school of thought among wildlife biologists (Exhibit A) that you should eat any organism you study. Frog scientists—who study toxic frogs, mind you—have a similar habit: lick any frog you study. “Sometimes I just can’t wait till I get back to the lab to do the chemistry, and I want to get an idea if there is something nasty,” said frog scientist Valerie Clark to National Geographic. With limited equipment out in the rainforest, a taste test is the quickest way to tell whether a frog is poisonous. Most of them can’t kill a human, but the poison can make your throat burn and constrict.
While frog-licking works in a pinch out in the field, discussing how skin secretions tickle your palate isn’t going to pass the rigors of peer review. Clark’s new study used electrical stimulation to extract skin secretions from frogs and analyzed them in a mass spectrometer. Among the products: sucrose and a new bile acid called tauromantellic acid.
Discoblog readers: We need your help.
If you’ve been reading the DISCOVER blogs this week, you might have caught 80beats’ coverage of the study out suggesting the ultra-tough shell of a deep-sea snail could inspire the next generation of body armor. For reasons that could only be described as “dropping the ball,” we didn’t include the illustration provided by the National Science Foundation. It’s not every day that you get to see a samurai attacking a giant snail, though he probably should’ve brought his Hattori Hanzō sword rather than this spear.
Samurai vs. Snail:
Not to be outdone, the Nature study we covered today, arguing Madagascar’s mammals arrived there via flotilla, came with its own illustration. In it, the happy lemur wins the boat race to the island while the sad hippos and lions, too fat to ride, stay on the mainland.
The Great Animal Boat Race:
More awesomely bizarre? Please, help us decide:
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80beats: Could a Deep Sea Snail’s Shell Inspire Next-Gen Body Armor?
80beats: Study: Madagascar’s Weird Mammals Got There On Rafts
Images: NSF; Luci Betti Nash
You know the prevailing posture of a bat in repose—hanging upside down. All but six of the known 1,200 bat species in the world roost with their heads down, but now naturalists have had the chance to study a Madagascar bat that not only roosts right-side-up, it hangs onto surfaces in a totally unexpected way.
Myzopoda aurita is endangered and listed as vulnerable to extinction. But a team lead by Brown University’s Daniel Riskin got to travel to Madagascar and found colonies of the bat in newly grown forests. There they found that the bat roosts right side up by deploying a kind of liquid adhesive.