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Fit For The Crown

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Male Anotheca spinosa © Matthew O’Donnell

One exciting species that we have been lucky enough to work with over the last couple of years is Anotheca spinosa a hylid frog found throughout Central America. Better known by its common name, the Coronated Tree frog is a rare species, little understood and understudied due to its cryptic nature.

These frogs spend the majority of their lives in and around tree hollows, they breed in these private ponds and even rear their tadpoles on a diet of unfertilised eggs. This means that they are infrequently observed in the wild and not a great deal is known about their behaviour.

One of the main reasons that we keep unusual species here in the Vivarium is to develop a greater understanding of their natural history, the more we know about these unique species the better equipped we will be to conserve them.

Myself and Adam recently published a previously unrecorded behaviour, observed in this species for the first time at Manchester Museum. We witnessed males using the bony crowns on their heads to combat each other, attempting to leaver each other out of the water filled tree hollow that they breed in.

Combative behaviour such as wrestling is witnessed in many species of amphibians especially in males competing against each other for the chance to breed. However the use of this species bony crown is something you would associate more with rutting stags rather than a tree frog!

For a more detailed account of our observations please follow this link, the note can be found in the most recent publication from Mesoamerican Herpetology and is free to access. You can also watch this combative behaviour in the short video clip below.

 

Combat behavior in captive male Coronated Treefrogs, Anotheca spinosa

The Coronated Tree Frog, Anotheca spinosa

 

3 Responses

  1. Well done the both of you. Thank you for all you do. Andrew

  2. Do the females of this species also possess the bony horns?

    • Yes, the females also process the bony cranial projections. Although we didn’t have any females within our collection, and so we were not able to assess if they were used in any similar function. Speaking with colleagues who have females, they’ve never seen them use them like this, however, there are several potential reasons for the females to still possess them, for avoiding predation and defending breeding sites etc.

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