Blushing frogs

C. Guilherme Becker
September 20, 2017
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Rayna Bell with frogs
C. Guilherme Becker

In the Sept. 20 issue of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, scientists from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and Macquarie University in Australia report that the males of at least 178 species of frogs undergo a temporary color change during their breeding season. Rayna Bell said research on two color-changing species suggests that the males’ bright color is not about attracting a mate, but acts instead as a signal to other males. “It’s useful to communicate ‘I’m a male, and I’ve got my female—stay away from her,’ or ‘I’m another male, don’t grab onto me,’” she said. “It’s an innovative evolutionary solution to one of the many challenges associated with reproducing successfully.” 

Photo by C. Guilherme Becker