Monday, June 11, 2007

They Eat Their Own

A new study coming out of Australia suggests that cane toads (Bufo marinus) purposely attract their young with the intention of eating them - ABC News Australia has the report. Researchers at the University of Sydney observed the adult cane toads wiggling their toes in a way that encouraged young toads to come close. When they got too close, they got gobbled up. Laboratory experiments (albeit odd ones) indicated that the cane toads have evolved to do their toe wiggling at exactly the right frequency to incite the young toads, likely because they think they've found an insect to prey upon. Hey, if you're going to have a ton of offspring to offset loss to predators, you might as well reap the benefits by keeping it in the species!

The researchers hope to eventually use this behavior to invent a more effective method of controlling the toads. Details of the study will eventually be published in the journal Animal Behavior (why oh why do universities put press releases out before the research is published???). In the meantime, be sure to watch the toe wiggling video that accompanies the report.

1 comment:

Patrick Belardo said...

I wish certain parents in this country would use a similar approach with their kids. :)