Frogs Catch Prey Using Reversible Spit On Sticky Tongue

Posted: Feb 1 2017, 2:55am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Frogs Catch Prey Using Reversible Spit on Sticky Tongue
Northern leopard frog grabs a cricket. Photo Credit: Candler Hobbs/Georgia Tech
  • Reversible saliva allows frogs to hang on to next meal

Frogs tend to employ their sticky saliva that returns to its originating point to catch insects.

A frog has a tongue that functions like a cat o’ nine tails. It captures the insects which the frog preys upon with a deft movement which takes places within a split second. The intensity with which the tongue of the frog hits the insect is five times the force of gravity.

It also manages to squarely grab the insect back in its mouth. All this occurs faster than the blink of an eye. Yet when captured in slow motion we can see how the mechanism works in reality down to its finest details.

The frog’s tongue is very soft and mushy. As for its saliva, it is quite sticky and returns to the point where it originated from. This makes for a deadly combination that knocks out the insect and lands it squarely in the frog’s mouth.

The moment the prey is inside the frog’s buccal cavity, the saliva suddenly turns thin and watery so that the prey can be detached and gobbled up by the frog.

The tongue of the frog is unique. Not only is it like silk and velvet in its softness but it also acts like a coiled spring and thus stores a lot of potential energy. It is stretchable to boot.

The overall structural-functional features of the frog’s tongue causes it to be the ideal adhesive organ for predatory purposes. Researchers captured frogs catching crickets in slow motion video clips.

Also the saliva samples were taken to be tested in a lab setting and the tongues were handled to gauge their level of softness. The tongue of the frog is like a bungee cord in its mechanism of action.

The tongue sort of pulls the insect in a tricky manner back into the frog’s mouth with force. As for the tissues in the tongue and mouth, they act like a car’s shock absorbers and catch the prey with precision and safety before relaying it to its doom within the stomach of the frog.

The saliva of the frog has the strange property of being able to change its consistency from honey-like viscosity to water-like flow. This allows the capturing of the insect with targeted specificity. The slow motion videos showed all this with accuracy and perfection.

This new study by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers, got published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface in a paper titled, “Frogs use a viscoelastic tongue and non-Newtonian saliva to catch prey.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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