Darwin’s frog was named after Charles Darwin, who discovered this unique creature living in Argentina and Chile, while on his famous world voyage.
Darwin’s Frog is a very cleverly adapted frog. It camouflages itself from predators by lying on the ground looking like a dead leaf (it has a pointy nose giving it a leaf shape). It can also turn on its back exposing the boldly patterned surface of its belly. The most amazing feature of this frog however, is that the tadpoles develop into frogs inside the male frog’s throat!
First, the female lays her eggs in the water. The male guards the eggs for 2-3 weeks but still, about half are eaten by insects and other predators. Any eggs that actually make it to the tadpole stage (usually about half) are swallowed by the male, who carries them around in his vocal pouch and protects them as they grow.
Once the tadpoles are tiny froglets, and large enough to protect themselves, they hop out of dad’s mouth and swim away. What a clever and unique way to protect your babies!
But sometimes clever adaptations like this are not enough.
There are two species of tadpole-swallowing frogs. Rhinoderma darwinii is considered vulnerable and Rhinoderma rufum is considered critically endangered.
The vulnerable status of these frogs seems to be due to several reasons including deforestation, habitat loss, climate change and disease.