Posts Tagged ‘Toads’

Toad Research Could Leapfrog To New Muscle Model

June 3, 2008

A toad sits at a pond’s edge eyeing a cricket on a blade of grass. In the blink of an eye, the toad snares the insect with its tongue. This deceptively simple, remarkably fast feeding action offers a new look at how muscles work.

This fresh perspective could lead to designing more efficient electric motors, better prostheses and new medical treatments for neuromuscular diseases like Parkinson’s.

Science has long held that muscles behave largely like motors. Northern Arizona University researcher Kiisa Nishikawa suggests that muscle acts more like a spring.

“Existing theories don’t explain how muscles shorten rapidly,” Nishikawa said. “Muscles can only shorten to do work; they can’t do work by lengthening.” A spring also can only do work by shortening.

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Biological Weapons To Control Cane Toad Invasion In Australia

May 12, 2008

New research on cane toads in Northern Australia has discovered a way to control the cane toad invasion using parasites and toad communication signals.

Professor Rick Shine from the University of Sydney has been studying the biology of cane toads, and will reveal his new research May 7 at the Academy of Science’s peak annual event Science at the Shine Dome.

He says that controlling toads has been difficult as things that kill them will often kill frogs. Professor Shine and his team studied cane toads in Queensland that lagged behind the invasion front and found they were infected with a lungworm parasite which slows down adults and, in laboratory tests, kills around 30% of baby toads.

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Priority Regions For Threatened Frog And Toad Conservation In Latin America

May 12, 2008

Nearly 35% of all amphibians are now threatened of extinction raising them to the position of the most endangered group of animals in the world. Decline of amphibian populations and species is ongoing due to habitat loss, fungal disease, climate shift and agrochemical contaminants. These impacts are even worse to frogs that reproduce in water bodies such as streams and ponds.

Despite of that, no study ever proposed key broad-scale regions for conserving these species till now. Rafael D. Loyola and his colleagues propose now a priority set of areas for the conservation of frogs and toads in Latin America. The study, published in this week’s PLoS ONE, is unprecedented in terms of not only the proposition of key-conservation areas, but also because it shows that the inclusion of species biological traits, such as reproductive modes, affects the performance of area-prioritization analyses.

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Australia decrees national cane-toad killing day

April 4, 2008

Why are the cute animals always the ones that suck at mating, while vermin like pigeons, rats, and bacteria are breeding their brains out? To rectify the situation, many eager citizens have illegally taken matters into their own hands. But in Australia, where the poisonous, invasive cane toads that plague the country have evolved longer legs to expedite their conquering of the outback—lawmakers themselves are getting into the spirit of things.

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Dog-sized ‘Toadzilla’ captured in Australia

January 10, 2008

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Described as the size of a small dog, the amphibian was found by volunteers searching through bushland near Darwin for cane toads, which are listed as an official pest.

Nicknamed Toadzilla, the reptile’s body is nearly 9in long and it weighs in at almost 2lb – double the size of an average toad.

Now, while a very small dog would be needed to compare it with, Mr Graeme Sawyer, co-ordinator of a toad-catching group called FrogWatch, said the amphibian was the biggest he and his companions had ever seen.

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