This Brazilian frog might be the first pollinating amphibian known to science

Izecksohn’s Brazilian tree frog, in the flower of a Brazilian milk fruit

The creamy fruit and nectar-rich flowers of the milk fruit tree are irresistible to Xenohyla truncata, a tree frog native to Brazil. On warm nights, the dusky-colored frogs take to the trees en masse, jostling one another for a chance to nibble the fruit and slurp the nectar. In the process, the frogs become covered in sticky pollen grains—and might inadvertently pollinate the plants, too. It’s the first time a frog—or any amphibian—has been observed pollinating a plant, researchers reported last month in Food Webs.

Scientists long thought only insects and birds served as pollinators, but research has revealed that some reptiles and mammals are more than up to the task. Now, scientists must consider whether amphibians are also capable of getting the job done. It’s likely that the nectar-loving frogs, also known as Izecksohn’s Brazilian tree frogs, are transferring pollen as they move from flower to flower, the authors say. But more research is needed, they add, to   confirm that frogs have joined the planet’s pantheon of pollinators.

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