I dreamt a strange dream tonight. it was my first dream in PBS. I was seeing a documentary play on TV. It featured Yvalisse Sondag, a Brazilian scientist who discovered a parasitic frog (pictured).
I was walking to my laboratory and it began to rain. I felt a big drop fall on my back and I didn’t pay attention because I was running to the bathroom. in the bathroom I felt something strange between my legs and it dropped into the commode. it was a small green frog but it swam away into the plumbing. I noticed something on myself, a tiny red egg which I recognized as a frogs egg. It was on me.
Yvalisse is a professor of vertebrate biology. She placed the egg in a controlled environment. She had a hunch that thus was no ordinary tree frog. the egg was kept in a moist environment at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
The feeling of a raindrop on my back that day did not feel like the rain we were getting at that moment. I suspected that it was the frog that landed on my back. I found the frog as I was wiping myself. I incubated the egg in the conditions found in a vaginal canal and it hatched a very strange looking tadpole that didn’t survive long.
pan to picture of tadpole with no visible eyes, row of very sharp teeth.
Dr. Sondag thought she was onto something -a parasitic vertebrate. She postulated that the frog is a short lived adult form whose purpose is to mate, and then jump onto the backs of females and deposit the egg in the vagina. on hatching, the tadpole swims up the canal and bites down and forms vascular attachments to the host, deriving it’s nutrients. When the time came it would complete it’s development and exit to lay eggs on other hosts.
Dr. Sondag, translated
The key was finding the host. There are native tapirs in the forests around the university and we captured several. for a long time, we came up with nothing but last year we found a young female.
A fiberoptic camera was inserted and revealed a clutch of tadpoles attached to the cervix. Serial images show the deveopment of these into a small green frog with small orange spots. It is the first instance of parasitism involving vertebrates as host and parasite.
Dr. Sondag, translated
we have discovered the frog secretes a topical anesthetic – that’s why it felt like a rain drop. We’re developing the chemical it secretes as a pharmaceutical.