The tree frog seems at first glance a normal frog and nobody has paid much attention to it until now.
But one day a scientist in Argentina, who was investigating the coloration of the animals for his doctoral thesis, pointed to a violet light and discovered something incredible: the frog is fluorescent!
The humble tree frog thus became the first amphibian that can increase its brightness naturally.
Or at least the first to be discovered, because scientists believe there could be others who do the same.
Until now it has not been heard (about the fluorescence in the amphibians).
The scientist who owes fame to a strange purple frog. The author of the find, the Argentine biologist Carlos Taboada, works in the division of Herpetología of the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences “Bernardino Rivadavia”.
Taboada confessed that his discovery was not recent, although it has been made known now.
“We found the frog about six years ago, but when we realized it was fluorescent we decided to investigate how it does before it is released,” he explained.
Taboada and his colleague Andrés Brunetti, also present during the find, did not want the “fluorescent frog” to become a sensational news that is then never investigated.Fluorescent frog. Author of the imageCARLOS TABOADA ET AL. Image caption
Thus the frog is normally seen (photo above) and under violet light (photo below).
During these years they managed to unravel the complex mechanism that allows hypsiboas punctatus (such as its Latin name) to increase its brightness naturally.
The key was in fluorescent molecules – or fluorophores – never seen before. They were baptized hyloinas.
Another factor at play was the translucent skin of these frogs, which reveal these fluorophores present in a subcutaneous tissue and in the skin glands of these animals.
Kambó, the controversial poison that is used in South America as medicine to cure everything.
The scientists also ruled out that fluorescence could be due to external factors.
“They are not radioactive frogs,” Taboada laughed at the jocular consultation of this medium.
Although the degree of fluorescence of frogs is high (up to 30%), this can not be seen with the naked eye since the human eye is not sensitive enough.
A violet or ultraviolet light is required since fluorescence is something that occurs when an object absorbs light and emits it at a wavelength of less energy.
Between 18% and 30% of the color of the frogs is fluorescence, a very high level.
Why do they shine?
Biologists believe that perhaps the frogs can see that effect and perhaps that fact explains why they are fluorescent.
“We know that frogs in general and this particular have maximum visual sensitivity at night, because they are nocturnal, by day are not active, and at night have complex social interactions,” said Taboada.
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One theory is that fluorescence may look different in males and females (although the human eye fails to see this distinction) and that the phenomenon fulfills a social role.
What is almost certain to experts here and in the world is that fluorescence would have something to do with communication.
As for this frog, it’s not even close to the rarest frog in the world and frog species are dying at a terrifying rate and many species are near extinction. The one below has seen a major decline but there are still significant populations in both Costa Rica and Panama.
They’re “worldwide” endangered, meaning that they used to be all over the world until they dramatically died out, yes there are rarer frogs but this one is quite rarer than a lot on the list. See video below: