Lungless frog discovered in Borneo
April 11, 2008
A lungless frog has been discovered on the island of Borneo. Scientists say the species may shed light on the process of evolution in some organisms.
The aquatic frog, Barbourula kalimantanensis was found in a mountainous part of Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, during an August 2007 expedition, according to David Bickford of National University of Singapore.
Bickford told the Associated Press that the creature is the first frog known to lack lungs. Like a few species of salamander and the world-like caecilian, Barbourula kalimantanensis breathes through its skin.
“These are about the most ancient and bizarre frogs you can get on the planet,”
Bickford was quoted as saying by Associated Press writer Michael Casey. “They are flat and have eyes that float above the water. They have skin flaps coming off their arms and legs.”
Bickford says that lunglessness is likely an adaptation to its habitat — cold and fast-flowing streams that are oxygen-rich.
“It’s an extreme adaptation that was probably brought about by these fast-moving streams,” Bickford said, adding that its lack of lungs reduce its buoyancy and help keep the frog from being swept downstream by currents.
Bickford says the species may be under threat by illegal logging and gold mining which silt the clear-running streams.
The species is described in this week’s issue of Current Biology.