Darwin's frog wiped out by deadly fungus

2013-11-28 13:00
Rhinoderma darwinii. (Wikipedia)

Rhinoderma darwinii. (Wikipedia)

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Cape Town – A frog named after the father of evolution, Charles Darwin, is being wiped out by a deadly fungus, according to a recent study.

The results published in Plos One showed that a fungal disease was implicated in declines and possible extinction of the Northern Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma rufum) which has not been seen since 1980.

The frog is only found in the forests of central Chile and is famous for having male frogs which care for their young by incubating them in their vocal sacs.

Dr Che Weldon, a South African expert on the amphibian chytrid fungus, said it infects the skin of amphibians after which the disease is referred to as chytridiomycosis.

“This fungus does not distinguish between hosts, it can infect any amphibian host. But the reaction of the host is different in different species,” he told News24.

“Some species will develop the disease while others seem to be resistant to some degree.”

According to Weldon, all frogs have immune defences which fight off foreign infection through the release of anti-microbial skin peptides.

All frogs have these peptides but the specific type differs in different species.

“The Northern Darwin’s frog does not have that specific suite or combination of peptides,” he said.

The frogs are named after Charles Darwin who formulated the theory of evolution and discovered them in 1834 in Chile during his voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle.

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Read more on:    chile  |  conservation  |  animals

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