First Lungless Frog Found

April 7, 2008

The first recorded species of frog that breathes without lungs has been found in a clear, cold-water stream on the island of Borneo in Indonesia.

The frog, named Barbourula kalimantanensis, gets all its oxygen through its skin.

"Nobody knew about the lunglessness before we accidentally discovered it doing routine dissections," study lead author David Bickford, a biologist at the National University of Singapore, said in an email.

His colleague Djoko Iskandar at the Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia first described the frog in 1978 from one specimen. About 15 years later, fishermen found another individual.

"Each specimen was deemed so valuable that scientists did not want to sacrifice the animals for dissection," Bickford said.

But the biologist immediately partially dissected several frogs when he found the species on a recent expedition to Borneo.

The team describes the peculiar frog in the May 6 issue of the journal Current Biology.

(Read about other new species found in Borneo.)

Evolutionary Oddity

Previously the only four-limbed creatures known to lack lungs were salamanders.

A species of earthwormlike, limbless amphibian called a caecilian is also lungless.

Tetrapods, or four-limbed creatures, that develop without lungs are rare evolutionary events, Bickford and colleagues write.

Continued on Next Page >>


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