Female Frogs Inflate to Deter Amorous Males
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It's long been known by scientists that frogs and toads will inflate themselves when approached by a predator to make themselves seem too big to swallow, but new research in the Royal Society's Biology Letters journal reports that females will puff-up to avoid sex as well. According to scientists, females frogs will inflate their bodies to make it more difficult for their desirous male counterparts to "hold on" during mating. The findings shed light into the process of frog reproduction and reveal a more active role of females in choosing their mates. How do you say 'scrub' in ribbits?To better understand the reasons why a female would want to inflate in size, it should be noted that the frog mating process is a rather unromantic affair. Instead of being a selective encounter, males will simply "grasp any female that comes within reach and retain their hold unless displaced by a rival male," explains one of the paper's authors, Dr. Benjamin Phillips. When a female plumps-up, she makes it more difficult for smaller, less desirable mates to 'be her special frog', so to speak.
According to a report in from the BBC, scientists had noticed previously that females inflated their bodies "during male-male wrestling matches" where many frogs were competing for the chance to mate, but now realize it might be because she's rooting for one male in particular.
Dr. Phillips explains:
[Biologists] assumed that this inflation was just a response to the physical stress of being pushed, prodded and occasionally knocked over by males. Our work now shows that females can actually manipulate the outcome of male-male competition by inflating at the right moment.
When a winner emerges from these competitions and finally mates with the female, her inflated size helps ensure that if he is big enough to get a good grip, her offspring will be stronger and healthier as well.
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