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Frog Stomach Thin Section

Frogs are extremely adaptable animals that have diversified to fill many niches in the ecosystems of the Earth. The amphibians may be found sitting atop lily pads in ponds, climbing branches in tropical rainforests, burrowed into the sands of Australian deserts, or even hibernating in the frozen soil of the Arctic.

One of the reasons that frogs are so adaptable is their characteristic thin layer of permeable skin. Not only does it allow air to pass through, but in most species, water does as well. In fact, most frogs rarely need to drink since their skin easily absorbs the water they need, and a few have stomach skin so porous that it can soak up moisture from surrounding soil. Frogs must, however, eat regularly and usually subsist on a diet of insects and worms captured with their sticky, forked tongues. Some large tropical species are also capable of preying upon snakes and small mammals.

The stomachs of some frogs are very unusual. In a few species known as gastric brooding frogs the organ is more than just a place for digestion to take place. The females of these species swallow their clutch of eggs and allow the tadpoles to hatch in their stomachs. It is believed that the tadpoles secrete chemicals that inhibit the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach wall and cause the mother to desist from feeding. Once the tadpoles become fully developed froglets, they are birthed through the mouth of the mother. Scientists have been extremely interested in studying these animals in order to find information about hydrochloric acid determent that could benefit humans suffering from gastric ulcers. However, gastric brooding frogs are currently presumed extinct, the last one having been seen in the mid-1980s.

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