Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Frogs 'Talk' Using Complex Signals

by Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | January 13, 2016 02:05pm ET

Frogs are known for producing a wide range of sounds, and they certainly aren't shy about piping up to win mates or warn intruders off their territory. But some types of frogs have a broader "vocabulary" than others, combining different vocalizations with gestures to say, "Come hither!" or "Keep your distance!"

A recent study of a Brazilian torrent frog, Hylodes japi, shows that this species employs a more nuanced communication system than any other known frog species. These outgoing amphibians use a combination of tactile, vocal and visual signals — including squealing, head bobbing and alternate-arm waving — to get each others' attention, the scientists said.

In fact, researchers found that the tiny H. japi had a sizable repertoire of calls and displays that was more complex than any seen before in anurans, the animal order that includes frogs and toads. The species' "vocabulary" included five visual displays never seen before in anurans at all.

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