Parental Care

Parental care is common among amphibians. Eggs and larvae are vulnerable to predators, but parental care helps increase the likelihood that some offspring will survive. Most often, one parent (often the male) remains with the eggs, guarding them from predators and keeping them moist until they hatch. The male Darwin's frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) of Chile takes the eggs into his vocal sacs, where they hatch and eventually undergo metamorphosis. The young frogs climb out of the vocal sacs and emerge from the male's mouth, as shown in Figure 40-16.

Female gastric-brooding frogs of Australia swallow their eggs, which hatch and mature in the stomach. The eggs and tadpoles are not digested because the stomach stops producing acid and digestive enzymes until the young pass through metamorphosis and are released. Two species of gastric-brooding frogs are known, but both appear to have become extinct within the last two decades. Females of some species of frogs, such as Eleutherodactylus, sit on their eggs until they hatch, not to provide warmth but to prevent the eggs from desiccating. The female normally lays the eggs in the leaves of trees or bushes, where they may dry up.

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