First Lungless Frog Found

Posted on April 7, 2008  Comments (0)

First Lungless Frog Found

The first recorded species of frog that breathes without lungs has been found in a clear, cold-water stream on the island of Borneo in Indonesia. The frog, named Barbourula kalimantanensis, gets all its oxygen through its skin.

Previously the only four-limbed creatures known to lack lungs were salamanders. A species of earthwormlike, limbless amphibian called a caecilian is also lungless. Tetrapods, or four-limbed creatures, that develop without lungs are rare evolutionary events, Bickford and colleagues write.

The trait in amphibians is likely an adaptation to life between water and land and their ability to respire through the skin. The researchers suggest lunglessness in B. kalimantanensis may be an adaptation to the higher oxygen content in fast-flowing, cold water.

Wake added that for most amphibians, the majority of gas exchange happens through the skin. A low but significant amount of respiration occurs via simple, sac-like lungs. Most species, he noted, have mating calls that require lungs. So biologists are unsure why a few species have entirely gotten rid of the organs, Wake said.

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