The dancing tadpole of the Indian subcontinent is a curious find. It was found in the sand beds of the Western Ghats.
A novel form of tadpole has been found in the Western Ghats of India. It normally imbeds itself in the sandy soil of the region. The study of this strange creature was published in on March 30, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Gayani Senevirathne from the University of Peradeniya and colleagues.
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The experts studied the animal in detail. It is an offspring of the Indian Dancing Frog. It belongs to the family Micrixalidae. The tadpoles were buried in streambeds and remained there till they evolved into froglets.
These tadpoles have elongated bodies that are muscular. Their eyes are also covered by skin. Together these two features facilitate burrowing into the ground.
As the tadpoles worm their way into the gravel beds, they can be seen to have no teeth either. However, they make up for this lack of dental features by possessing saw-like jaw coverings.
These prevent large grains of sand which are irritants from entering their buccal cavities. This is during the period they are engaged in locomotion and ingestion in the sand beds.
The guts of the tadpoles contain tiny sand grains along with rotting organic matter. Together these act as the main source of nutrition for these dancing tadpoles.
The dancing frogs usually flail their legs as a sexual signal and territorial imperative while they sit on the giant rocks alongside the streams. While this behavioral feature of the frogs was common knowledge, the presence of the tadpoles was something that remained hidden in the dark.
This particular species remained the only one whose tadpoles were a complete enigma. They seemed not to exist at all and this fact had the scientists totally amazed, dazed and confused. The first reported evidence of these tadpoles being extant has piqued the interest of the world of science.
The nature of these tadpoles led to their remaining out of view of the rest of the world. The outer anatomy of the tadpoles as well as their bone structure were noted down well by the researchers.
They displayed a ribcage very early on in their lives. Besides this these tadpoles are one of only five species that have infantile ribs. These ribs may allow muscular attachments which lead to a more remarkable ability to burrow through the sand with ease.
The young frogs of this species also have lime sacs which contain stored calcium carbonate. This is a feature which is not commonly found in other frogs.
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Little is known about these frogs and more research will need to be carried out before facts could be amassed regarding their structural-functional habits.