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Biologists show the only 'lungless' frog species does indeed have lungs

Only known frog species without lungs found to have them after all
Anatomy of lungs in Barbourula and Bombina. Credit: Current Biology (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2024.03.017

A trio of marine biologists at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History has found that the frog species Barbourula kalimantanensis, previously thought to be the only species of frog without lungs, does indeed have them.

In their study published in Current Biology, David Blackburn, Jaimi Gray and Edward Stanley used high-resolution micro-scanning techniques to study the .

In 2008, a different team of researchers captured and dissected 11 B. kalimantanensis, known more commonly as the Bornean flat-headed frog, but failed to find any evidence of lungs. The finding suggested the species was the only frog that did not have lungs—to survive, it would have to pull through its from the water in which it lived.

The lack of lungs has been observed in one caecilian and some , which means that it could also be the case with frogs. The research team noted at the time that the frogs lived in Bornean rivers with strong currents where large lungs with strong buoyancy would make survival difficult. The research team was not able to confirm that this was the case, however.

For this current study, the new research team repeated the work done in 2008, but this time, also used a high-res micro-CT scanner to get a closer look at a particular part of the frog, a hole in the bottom of the frog's mouth; the feature appeared in all the they studied. They also found what looked like a tiny glottis connecting the hole to the rest of the mouth. A closer look revealed that it was a pair of small, thin lungs.

The research team is not ruling out the possibility that the frog does get some of its oxygen through its skin and the rest via its lungs. They note that more work is required to find out if that is the case.

More information: David C. Blackburn et al, The only "lungless" frog has a glottis and lungs, Current Biology (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2024.03.017

Journal information: Current Biology

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Citation: Biologists show the only 'lungless' frog species does indeed have lungs (2024, May 21) retrieved 23 June 2024 from
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