X is for…Xenopus laevis

Today is the twenty-fourth day of the April A to Z Challenge.  I will be writing about different frog species based on their latin species names!  See the introduction here.

This was the only day that I could not find so I went based on the genus instead.

 

Xenopus laevis – African Clawed Frog

X. laevis is a species of aquatic frog, nicknamed the clawed frog due to its 3 short claws on each hind foot which it uses to tear apart its foot.  Xenopus meaning strange foot and Laevis meaning smooth.

 

xenopus_laevis_02

This frog is native to much of southern and sub-Saharan Africa, living primarily at the bottom of lakes and rivers.  There body has a line of stitch marks along either side which act as sense organs to detect prey in surrounding water.  Their eyes and nose are located at the top of their head enabling them to see and breathe without being too visible.  X. laevis lacks a tongue and a visible ear.  The males also lack vocal cords.

krallenfrosch_xenopus_laevis

The African clawed frog can swim at astonishing speeds sideways, backwards, forward, up and down and practically in any direction.  They are carnivorous so its main food is water bugs and small fish, but it will also hunt down other insects and small invertebrates.

xenopus_laevis_pair

These frogs were used in the 1940’s as a pregnancy test.  The frogs were injected with urine of a female human and if the woman was pregnant, the frog would start producing eggs.  X. laevis was also the first vertebrate cloned in the lab.  They produce a type of antibiotic in their skin that heals wounded skin rapidly.  This antibiotic is used as an anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and antiviral which comes in handy in the stagnant water where they live.

 

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By living on the muddy bottoms of lakes and rivers, the X. laevis is safe from most predators outside the water, except when it comes to the surface to breathe.  Main predators are heron, but numerous birds, reptiles and mammals do find them as a treat.  These frogs being entirely aquatic also are being threatened by water pollution.

 

Check out my previous A to Z posts:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W

 

Sources:

(1) Smithsonian National Zoo(2) A to Z Animals (3) Iucn Red List

Image Sources:

(1) Wikipedia(2&3) Wikimedia Commons (4) Online Zoo

 

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thefroglady

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10 thoughts on “X is for…Xenopus laevis

  1. Fascinating! The pregnancy test in particular… but I like their claws, and am always interested when male and female of the species have differences that don’t seem logically explained by reproductive function.

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