Fossils of a pregnant frog more than 100 million years old have been found in China

Fossils of a pregnant frog more than 100 million years old have been found in China

An international team of scientists has discovered an ancient frog with a belly full of eggs. This is the oldest such find.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a team of evolutionary biologists and paleontologists claims that the frog’s fossils belong to the early Cretaceous period – it lived about 100 million years ago, during the time of the dinosaurs, writes Phys.

The research team scanned the fossil with a CT scanner and found that the frog belonged to the species Gansubatrachus qilianensis. Its skeleton indicates that this amphibian was not fully mature.

Despite this, she was fully capable of reproduction and had a belly full of eggs arranged in columns, probably in the oviduct. Another cluster of eggs was probably in the ovary. This arrangement repeats the reproductive process of modern frogs, in which eggs pass through paired oviducts.

Photo: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2024)

The researchers ruled out old age among the causes of the frog’s death. Also, they are sure that she did not die due to problems with the water source (for example, a sudden bloom of algae). And the fact that several other frogs have survived in the area rules out the possibility of another ecological problem.

Scientists suggest that the most likely cause of the frog’s death was suffocation due to the actions of the male or weakness caused by active mating.

Previous studies have shown that males use amplexus, a type of mating behavior in which during the mating process, he grabs the female with his front legs to prevent her from moving, to fertilize the eggs.

Modern male frogs engage in amplexus for hours, sometimes days. This time is enough for the female to die of exhaustion or suffocation.

We will remind, in Colombia, a woman was arrested at the airport who wanted to export 130 poisonous frogs.

Read also: Some female frogs fake death to avoid sex – scientists

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