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Species of the Week
Brachycephalus ephippium | Pumpkin Toadlet
Photo © Sandra Goutte

Amphibian News Archive
Fluorescence is a well known phenomenon in marine organisms, which only recently has been found in terrestrial vertebrates; the first report of fluorescence in amphibians was described in the lymph and skin glands in Boana punctatus and B. atlantica (Taboada et al. 2017). Goutte et al. (2019) reports another amphibian fluorescence: this time in the dermal bones of two species of pumpkin toadlets, Brachycephalus ephippium and B. pitanga. When exposed to intense UV-light, they found the intensity of fluorescence increases with the maturity of the frog as the epithelial layer co-ossifies with the bones of the head and back. Given earlier findings (Goutte et al. 2017) that these two species were unable to hear their own advertisement calls, and instead rely on visual cues, such as hand-waving and mouth-gaping for mating, they hypothesize that the fluorescence in these species may be used to enhance intraspecific visual communication. However, analysis of Brachycephalus vision is needed to test this hypothesis, and an alternative hypothesis is that the fluorescence enhances aposematic warnings of the toadlets' toxicity to predators that see fluorescence in natural light, such as birds and spiders.

Current number of amphibian species: 8,005 (Apr 25, 2019) Newly added species