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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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ScienceShot: Cannibal-Style Parenting
24 January 2014 5:00 am
It may be an act of care, not sacrifice, when a male dyeing poison frog (Dendrobates tinctorius) leaves his newborn in water inhabited by larger, cannibalistic tadpoles. That’s the conclusion of a new study in which researchers observed the behavior of the 2-inch-long dyeing poison frogs around pools of water in French Guiana. When tadpoles hatch out of eggs, fathers carry their new offspring—one or two at a time stuck on their back—to small pools of water that have collected in plants or tree trunks, where the tadpoles are left alone to mature. Researchers found that while pool size and depth had little bearing on whether tadpoles were dropped off, the fathers were most likely to leave their newborns in pools that already housed larger, more mature tadpoles known to cannibalize smaller tadpoles. It may be dangerous for the newcomers, but it also indicates that the pool has the proper conditions for a frog to grow, the researchers hypothesize in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. In the natural pools observed, holding about 50 tadpoles at any given time, only 12 acts of cannibalism were observed during the study period, suggesting that many tadpoles make it to maturity without being eaten. More work will help researchers understand how the counterintuitive behavior has evolved and how pressure on habitats may have played a role.