Temperature’s Effect on Toad Speed

This little gem caught my eye on G+ thanks to Carl Zimmer.

Remember yesterday’s movie of the toad eating in slow motion? Now watch this one. It’s still a toad eating a cricket, but this time it’s filmed at two different temperatures. Keep two things in mind – first, the toad’s body temperature is the same as the air around it, and second, muscle works faster when it’s warm. That’s why it takes a lot longer for the toad to pull its tongue into its mouth and close its mouth at 17°C than at 24°C. But there’s no real difference in the time it takes to for the toad to fling its tongue out of its mouth. That’s because tongue extension is powered by elastic recoil. Slow muscle contractions pull elastic tissues inside the tongue tight while the toad’s mouth is still closed. When it opens, the tongue flies forward like an arrow from a bow. So whether it’s hot or cold, the toad’s always ready to go hunting. (see Deban and Lappin 2010:http://tinyurl.com/3ktz4ah)

Diane Kelly

Here’s the video:

In as little as twelve degrees Fahrenheit  difference, you can clearly see how much slower the muscles in the toad work.

Next time you’re trying to evade a predator in winter, be thankful you’re an endotherm. 😉



We recently covered Taxonomy here at AmoebaMike.  Taxonomy, a way of classifying organisms, fits very well with evolution.

There is of course an issue with evolution: the hot topic that pits “religion vs science”.  That of course is hogwash as the Pope (more than one) came out and said that evolution is not some fad hypothesis. But then of course, plenty of other Christians really dislike Catholics so that’s not enough for some people.  It’s an argument that probably takes over 6% of the internet already, and I won’t replay it here. I just wanted to point out that it is a hot button issue.

So moving past the issue of man being created in the image of God, evolution can actually tell you a lot. It shows how different species are related to each other. For example, did you know that you have more in common with a whale, than a whale has in common with a shark?

While sharks and whales both live in the ocean, sharks are actually a type of fish that doesn’t have bones. Whales, on the other hand, are mammals. And like humans, which are also mammals, whales suckle their young. Sharks are cold-blooded and whales are warm-blooded. Sharks breathes through their gills underwater and whales breathe air through their lungs.

You are even more closely related to a sea anemone than the sea anemone is to an oak tree despite the fact that they pretty much just stick around in the same place.

How do you determine who you’re closely related to?

The same way you do with people!

Let’s take person A.  You’re related to person A.  How do you know is person A is your sibling? Look at your parents. Do you share parents? No? Do you share grandparents? If yes, person A is either an uncle/aunt or a cousin!

Looking at other organisms, primates like chimps are closely related to humans because a long time ago (a very, very long time) they shared a common ancestor.  Even further back, we share a common ancestor with a cat. Further in the past, we share a common ancestor with a jellyfish. And still further, we share an ancestor with a rose plant.

Does that mean you came from a chimp? a cat? a jellyfish? a rose plant? Of course not!  You didn’t come from any of those organisms any more than you came from your cousin or your uncle just because you share a common grandparent!

Through much hard work, including gene sequencing, a giant family tree is being constructed. Only it’s not like Geni where you can how closely you’re related to President Obama; it’s actually a tree of all life.  Fittingly, it’s called the Tree of Life. Check it out!

See also:

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