Boasting "crazy" evolutionary adaptations, a new group of so-called fanged frogs—cousins of this Luzon fanged frog (file picture)—has been discovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, according to biologist Ben Evans.
During a recent expedition, 13 new "fanged" species were seen on Sulawesi for the first time, 9 of them new to science, according to a new study led by Evans, a biologist at McMaster University in Canada.
The "fangs" aren't teeth but bony jaw protrusions—some of which aren't visible past the gumline, said Evans, whose study was published in the August issue of the journal The American Naturalist.
Scientists have yet to discover the fangs' purpose, but one possibility is that the frogs use the spikes to help capture food in fast-moving water. The frogs with the largest fangs seem to prey on fish or tadpoles.
This frog, so far known only as Limnonectes species T, is one of the nine new fanged frogs discovered on Sulawesi.
Unlike on the nearby Philippines, where fanged frogs compete for resources with other frogs, Sulawesi's fanged frogs have no competition. As a result, the Sulawesi amphibians have evolved to fill many evolutionary roles, Evans said.
What's surprising about these frogs is they are so closely related but so morphologically variable"—or physically different, Evans said.
For instance, Sulawesi's fanged frogs all share a common ancestor that lived just 15 million years ago, yet they've rapidly diversified in a "striking" way, he said.