Nature is a mysterious power that never ceases to amaze with wonderful phenomena and interesting creatures. One of such puzzling being is the amphibian and more precisely its frog tongue. Perhaps if this organ were non-existent, the world wouldn’t have known frogs at all. The tongue is the main tool with which these little creatures can hunt and seize their prey. However, scientists were not able to understand entirely how a frog can envelop an insect with its tongue in such a fast fashion. It was only until recently that this mystery was finally cracked open.
Alexis C. Noel, a Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has just offered the last missing piece in the puzzle created around the frog tongue. Until her revelation, the scientific world explained the hunting trick of the amphibians by the existence of a kind of glue that resembles that from a post-it or from a transparent tape. However, Noel was able to identify in a video of a frog that the creature relies on a certain kind of trick.
This trick ended up to be the frog spit. What is interesting about Noel’s findings is that the frog spit can change its texture in an instant. It can actually go from a honey-like viscosity to just a thin fluid. The process can also be easily reversed. Not only that, but this procedure can be enacted so quickly, that the frogs can enjoy their meal as soon as they hunt it down.
Unlike humans, frogs don’t have salivary glands. However, their spit comes from the tongue itself. Even if the organ is removed from the body, the spit continues to ooze out of the texture. Another major difference is that the frog tongue is ten times softer than ours which makes it one of the softest organic tissues in the world. Thus, the attack of the frog can be split in three stages.
First off, the tongue wraps around the target, and the spit turns thin which makes it easy for it to seep into the cracks of the shell. In the second stage, the tongue returns into the mouth while the saliva changes its texture back into thick viscosity which allows the frog to gain more control over its prey. In the last stage, the frog needs to unstuck its meal from the tongue. To do so, the frog uses its eyeballs. By closing its eyes, the pressure releases the insect from its temporary captivity only to fall down the frog’s throat.
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