Four amazing species of frogs have skipped on hopping and slink along on all fours instead.
We all know that frogs and toads hop – it's they're signature move, after all. Except that lo and behold, some of them, gasp, walk! Like, put one foot in front of the other and take consecutive steps! And it's just about the cutest thing I have ever seen. (I know I say that a lot, but still.)
While yes, some frogs also swim, slip and climb, these four unusual species really just flat-out walk. The Senegal running frog, the bumblebee toad, the red-banded rubber frog, and the tiger-legged monkey frog have evolved this preference for perambulating – and now scientists have discovered how they do it.
Joshua Rapp Learn writes about these athletic oddballs for Science magazine, and explains what the scientists have figured it out:
...the team measured the relative size of their limbs and observed their posture and movement as they walked. Though the four species are unrelated, they all have more symmetrical limb lengths than the ordinary short front legs and large powerful back legs model of most frogs ... The frogs’ front legs are a bit shorter than their hind legs, but they compensate for this by stretching their front legs out when they walk while using a slight crouching posture on their back legs.
The result? A low-slung locomotion that is part stalking cat, part cartoon character – and all kinds of wonderful. The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology, say that they aren't exactly sure why these creatures have taken to walking rather than hopping, but that they all live in similar grassland habitats lacking in branches and foliage to cling on to could be the clue. It may simply be more effective for them to run, rather than jump, when enemies are near. Even so, they say that the frogs haven't given up on their froggy ways entirely. They can still hop, they just don't seem to want to. With a newfound slinky stride like that, I wouldn't want to go back either.