The bizarre bloated Purple Frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) isn’t exactly what you might call handsome but as it spends most of its life underground (only emerging to mate), appearances are more irrelevant than usual. The only surviving member of a group of amphibians that evolved around 130 million years ago during the Age of the Dinosaurs, this odd and decidedly un-froglike amphibian uses its pointy touch-sensitive snout to seek out its main prey, termites, deep in the earth.
(image via: Sandesh Kadur)
Rated as Endangered by IUCN, the Purple Frog is only known to inhabit two localities in the forested Cardomom Hills in India’s spectacular Western Ghats region. Also known as the Pignose Frog, this unusual frog was first formally described in October of 2003 though the species’ tadpole had been known and categorized since 1918. Full props to wildlife photographer and environmentalist Sandesh Kadur for capturing photographically the slightly surprized-looking Purple Frog above.
Guenther’s Marsupial Frog
(image via: National Geographic/William E. Duellman)
At some point “amazing” crosses the line to bizarre and in the case of frogs, Guenther’s Marsupial Frog (Gastrotheca guentheri) is such a line-crosser. Found only in thick tropical forest areas of found in Colombia and Ecuador, this otherwise unremarkable amphibian is the only known frog to have viable, recognizable teeth in its lower jaw. Most frogs have tiny teeth in their upper jaws but for Guenther’s Marsupial Frog, less is more. Scientists theorize this frog “reached back” to a time over 200 million years ago to re-evolve teeth once possessed by the prehistoric ancestors of today’s frogs. Let’s hope they don’t continue to re-evolve into some of the more fearsome toothy dinosaurs.