The ‘Frog Glue’ of the Crucifix Frog
This peculiar frog is an Australian endemic species that occurs in central inland New South Wales and the interior of southern Queensland. Its scientific name is Notaden bennettii (Myobatrachidae), and is better known as the Crucifix Frog or Holy Cross Frog because of the pattern of dark spots on its back resembling a cross.
Notaden bennettii is a fossorial frog, it means that is adapted to spend most of its life underground. They only emerge after heavy rains and breed in temporary pools.
Frogs of this species (and also of N. melanoscaphus and N. nichollsi) produce an exudate, secreted by glands on their backs, that quickly sets into an adhesive and elastic material. They secrete the sticky material when they are provoked, probably in an attempt to deter potential predators.
The frogs typically live 1m underground in dried mud for nine months of the year. When they emerge are vulnerable to insect attacks and so a possible use of the exudate may be to jam the jaws of biting insects like ants, sticking them to the frog’s skin, which it later sheds and eats. The exudate sets rapidly as a yellow-colored tacky elastic solid, and sticks well even in the frog’s moist habitat.
Preliminary studies of this adhesive, which is biocompatible, have shown its several useful potential properties for medical applications.
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