Wolverine Frog – A Horror Frog That Breaks Its Bones

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Do you know Wolverine? What if I tell you that an animal has the same power as Wolverine has? The scientists found a real-life Wolverine-like from the x-men. But instead of being Hugh Jackman with crazy hair, it’s a frog. These frogs are also known as the Hairy Frog for only the hair-like structures found on males. They’ve also been called Horror Frogs, though we aren’t really sure why because these frogs are awesome!

Meet the Horror Hairy Frogs!

Frogs have over 7,400 species around the world. Amphibian Horror is certainly not a movie genre, but maybe it should be on this evidence. The Belgian zoologist George Boulenger first defined a strange hairy frog with cat-like extendable claws in 1900 found in the French Congo. The frog (Trichobatrachus Robustus), also known as the horror frog or Wolverine frog, is a frog species in the Arthroleptidae family. They get the name “Wolverine Frog” because of the claws on their back feet. 

A frog that breaks its bones” – sounds pretty bizarre, but let us continue! 

This furry frog actively breaks its bones to bring the claws out. Actually, they puncture their way out of the frog’s toe pads. It usually happens when they feel vulnerable. The researchers say some salamanders force their ribs through their skin to produce protective barbs on demand. But nothing like this fascinating mechanism has been observed before. The feature is also found in 9 of the 11 frogs of their style Austenus Genus. Most of which live in Cameroon. 

This amphibian’s diet consists of arthropods and other invertebrates. They are not the tiny little frogs you might see in your garden. After hatching, the tadpoles are reportedly muscular and even have teeth! So there’s thought they’re carnivorous. They likely eat insect and fish larvae. It’s unknown how long these frogs live in the wild.

Wolverine is, undoubtedly, one of the deadliest mutants found. A wolverine frog’s head is wider but not remarkably long. Their nostrils sit closer to their eyes rather than right on the tip of their snout, like some other frog species. The males are comparatvely larger than the females, which is somewhat uncommon among frog species. The female Wolverine frogs can grow 8 to 11 centimeters while males grow 10 to 13 centimeters. So they range in size from 3 to 5 inches (76-127mm) in length. Now, you can imagine how these frogs with hair might look.

Wolverine Frog

The Natural Habitat

Wolverine frogs live in central west Africa. They are found in Cameroon’s tropical or subtropical forests, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guania, Gabon, Nigeria, and possibly Angola. You can find them in forested habitats as well as agricultural fields. Additionally, the wetland areas like swamps can become their habitat, too. They don’t shy from fast-moving waters. How marvelous they are and equally strong. In fact, their tadpoles can be found hanging out at the foot of waterfalls in fast-flowing rivers! In elevation, wolverine frogs may be found up to nearly a mile (1.6km).

Defence Mechanism Behaviour

As I said, it has the same power as Wolverine. It can bring out claws from its hands and attack the enemy. Don’t believe us? Continue reading!

The difference between the superhero and the frog is that this little guy has to break his bones to use them. As a means of defense, in each horror, frog’s hind toes are bones that come to sharp points. The points are capped with a small nodule of bone attached to the actual sharp end. When the frog is attacked, it breaks the nodule off the end of the pointed bone, effectively unsheathing it for battle. The frog then forces the sharp point through its skin and tries to shank the hungry predator with it. Pushing bone through the skin is like Wolverine’s character, hence the common name. 

It’s believed the frogs can retract the bones when not in use, and the skin will heal, again like the Marvel hero. Wolverine frogs are the only known vertebrates to use claws made of actual bone without any kind of keratinous cover, though, technically there are a handful of frogs who have these claws. This behaviour is somewhat like a cat retracting its claws; however, cats don’t break their nails through their own skin. It means wolverine frog claws are pretty different and unique.

Do They Make a Healthy Snack?

The adult wolverine frogs are actually eaten in Cameroon. Due to this frog’s defences, humans hunt hairy frogs with long spears and axes, so they don’t actually have to touch the frogs while catching them.

Hairy Body of Male Breed

Wolverine Frog

Over the course of the breeding season, the female may lay hundreds of eggs. These are laid in streams on rocks. The eggs are sticky. The male furry frog protects the eggs, which may be why he becomes hairy. 

The breeding males have hair-like structures on their body and thighs. The filaments that protrude from his skin are not unlike gills. The hairs are, in fact, trichome dermal papillae, which contain numerous blood vessels. They are thought to function a bit like external gills. They help the frog intake more oxygen through their skin while taking care of their brood. These structures can be over half an inch (13mm) long at full length. Frogs breathe through their skin, so more surface area means more opportunity to get oxygen from the water. This is not unlike lasagna lizards with their lasagna-like skin flaps. 

Quick facts

  • Wolverine frogs feed on slugs, myropods, spiders, beetles, and grasshoppers. This food is swallowed whole with the help of their hands and pushed down the throat, in part, by their eyeballs.
  • Hairy frog tadpoles may be eaten by fish.
  • They’re currently listed as least concern by the IUCN, though habitat loss and degradation are believed to decrease their population.
  • The furry frog species has explicitly another interesting trait. These frogs mate during the rainy season.
  • Males likely call to females much like other frogs because they have vocal sacs.
  • Hairy frogs are active at night hence Nocturnal.
  • These frogs with hair are terrestrial species, but they don’t return to the water for breeding. 
  • The Wolverine frog, like all amphibians, breathes in part through their skin.
  • They absorb water through their skin rather than drinking standing water.
  • Bakossi people believe that these frogs fall from the sky, and their consumption can help infertile couples to conceive.

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