Boy or girl, though?
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For more than a week they cohabitated, but no signs of a hookup, or even that they took much notice of each other. Above—and see how much larger the female is, which is not uncommon. And then it finally rained again the other night.
life in a (former) one-frog town
Temporary seasonal water bodies are not a place where fish can live. And what do fish eat? This might be acquired for mutualism, or commensalism. Sort of amazing that something like a tarantula, which we think of as automatons always performing the algorithm of bigger or smaller, if smaller, then pounce, can cohabitate with something else in the same size class. A similar arthropod-vertebrate mutualism are the gobies and shrimp that share a burrow, but in that case neither organism would ordinarily be a deadly predator of the other. This thing must really have relied upon the frog being highly distasteful for it to get started at all.
Think of how male tarantulas have to be constantly and carefully tapping and plucking to keep female tarantulas in the "mate" and not "eat" mindset What is the communication here so that the spider isn't always 'accidentally' pouncing I guess. It seems to me that accidentally pouncing on a highly toxic frog and dying zero benefit would carry a higher selective penalty than accidentally pouncing on a conspecific, which might cost a mating opportunity unless the pounce is post-hookup but does deliver a big meal, and might thin out the competition for food and living space.
One wonders how many of those "accidental" acts of cannibalism are actually accidental. Matt-I wasn't implying the cannibalism is accidental.
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Mostly I mentioned that to draw attention to the fact that constant communication must occur for the predation impulse to be suppressed. This must also be the case for the frog. I am wondering how the spider isn't constantly like, hey, that thing is smaller than me Alternatively, maybe constant chemical signals aren't important, but somehow the spider must track, 'remember' or 'recognize' its cohabitor.
Well, what is missing is that frogs spare hatchling spiders, and indeed that adult frogs prefer holes with spiders over holes without spiders.
Short Story: 'The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County' by Mark Twain
They are protected by their poison in any case. Has nothing been published on this relationship in North America? Gastrophryne and tarantulas in e. Texas and Oklahoma? I know that they coinhabit burrows. As an aside, wouldn't something that kills and eats its prey from the inside out be relatively immune to skin toxins? Unless it is something really virulent and has a mode of action such that the spider doesn't even need to ingest it to feel the effects.
Great stuff as usual :. This is very timely review of a greatly neglected area of research. When I was in school I was amazed by a microhylid -- I believe Kaloula sp that was sitting on a red ant nest. The ants were dismembering a lizard nearby. They would dart towards this frog and then scuttle away. Kaloula could be distinguished from all other frogs in their nocturnal orchestra in our town due to its peculiar grating call. I have seen Microhyla rubra in holes of the type that Chilobrachys spiders use. I have never seen the two together in the same hole but they did co-occur in the same forest.
So this might be a relationship to explore.
Another incredibly beautiful microhylid Melanobatrachus also lived in the mountains not far from where I went to school but sadly we were hardly aware that the species had gone missing for a while. Ah, I gotcha. Not the why, for which there is a plausible selective story, but the how, as in how does the spider remember not to eat the frog. That is a good question.
Ditto the slurping the prey inside out and skin toxins. I got nothin'. It's nuts that people yap about pyramids, UFOs, etc. Do you expect an ur-spider - ur-frog pairing, and these are all their descendants, or is this a case of multiple convergence? The baby spiders probably sound distinctive enough to the frog - they possibly have a completely different acoustic footprint as they walk, run, move compared to any insect, and possibly a unique acoustic signature to that particular species or family, so the frog is likely to distinguish on that basis.
Likewise the spider regarding froglets. All pictures I've seen so far are with female spiders, or individuals of unspecified sex.
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Do these frogs only associate with females? Thanks to all for comments, I'm glad this has stirred up so much interest. Hopefully I'll come back to the subject in the future: the main constraint is lack of useable images a persistent problem when writing about obscure herps. Sven comment 18 : Hunt's article cited above is about the association of the Texas narrow-mouthed toad Gastrophryne olivacea with the tarantula Aphonopelma.
There's also a Breene that discusses this relationship: I haven't see this reference and think that it's a tarantula book. Nathan comment 24 : I would say that this behaviour has arisen independently on several occasions as different microhylids and tarantulas have found themselves sharing the same burrows or tree holes. However, it remains to be seen how widespread this sort of thing is.
Really interesting article. I've never read about this before. You'd think it'd have come up in one of the nature documentaries I've seen this in Mexico on several occasions: frogs and tarantulas. Note that the "Brachypelma vagans" might be a different species, and I am really not sure if the frogs are actually "rain frogs".
I most likely have better pictures of what I've observed in Mexico. I have for sure a video of frogs hopping around a tarantula. I'll try to upload this video to YouTube later on. Tarantula's don't so much eat their prey from the inside out as after striking down with their fangs and injecting the venom then proceed to chew the food item until it's a mushy mess, suck out the liquid bits and leave the hard parts as a bolus.
This means were they to dine of the frog they would receive a substantial does of poison which is probably incentive enough not to eat the frog. These discarded remnants of meals do attract scavengers; in captive tarantulas here in the UK minute springtails are often found in spiders tanks feeding on the remains of meals. They're easy to deal with if you keep the tank clean but don't present any sort of threat to the spider. Poecilotheria are indeed wonderful spiders. They are popular with tarantula keepers because of their spectacular markings, quick growth rates and high interest value.
They can be kept communally in large tanks there is some debate about how viable this is and breed easily; there is a ready market for captive-bred spiderlings. Some of the more recent additions to the hobby are equally incredible animals, especially P. Hooijer and entitled 'Interesting Encounter in Tamarindo, Costa Rica' where he found a microhylid frog he identified as Physalaemus pustulosus co-habiting with an Alphonopelma seemanni in a burrow on an abandoned road.
Thanks for further comments. John: I'm really interested in seeing the images you have and will email you. Stu, thanks for the info. Note that Engystomops pustulosus formerly Physalaemus pustulosus is not a microhylid, but a member of the obscure little group Leiupeuridae. Wikipedia says that P. If you can see them, they're not minute, but utterly gigantic. Minute springtails are about the size of an average ciliate :o. Just a little blurb to inform everyone that this post has been linked to in an article on Cracked a humour website entitled The 6 Most Unlikely Partners in the Animal Kingdom.
By tetrapodzoology on July 3, Complex relations: commensalism Refs - - Crocraft, R. Foelix, R. Biology of the Spiders. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Hunt, R. Frog sanctuary in a tarantula burrow.