Tungara Frog's Mating Calls Can Actually Attract Predator Bats, Research Finds
Our apologies to tungara frogs, but this news is making us laugh: Male tungara frogs, found in Central and South America, have very distinctive mating sounds that attract other female tungara frogs. Unfortunately, their mating sounds also attract frog-eating bats, which use their special powers to figure out where the frogs are and prey on them. It's crazy what some animals will risk just to find a mate.
According to the study recently published in Science and authored by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the male tungara frog tends to make its mating calls while on the forest floor, which has several shallow ponds. The mating calls lead to ripples on the pond water, which fringe-lipped bats (who love frogs) perceive both through direct hearing and through echolocation. As a result, they can also detect where the male frog is, and before you know it, that poor frog who only wanted a mate became a bat's next meal. We suppose Darwin would have had a word or two to say about what this means for the evolution of tungara frogs.
Watch the video below to hear how a tungara frog's mating call sounds:
The bats were 36.5 percent more likely to swoop down on frogs if they were making mating calls next to a pond than if they weren't, as echolocation made the process of finding easier. (Echolocation, by the way, is a biological sonar in which the bats emit sounds and listen to the echoes to locate where objects in the environment are — incidentally, there's also a frog that can "swallow sound.")
Now here's what happens when a bat successfully locates the tungara frog.
What if humans were just as willing to go to those kinds of lengths for love?