The Caribbean tree frog

You'd think that mutations that prevent development from progressing to the next stage or that eliminate a stage are not good. Interestingly enough, the resulting mutants sometimes survive. In the case of one Caribbean tree frog, they do very well indeed.

When you think of the developmental stages of frogs, you probably think of tadpoles. Well, the Caribbean tree frog Eleutherodactylus coqui is a frog with no tadpoles; its developmental pathway has lost the tadpole stage. Eggs develop directly into very tiny frogs.

As a result of this developmental shift, the species is able to live in areas without bodies of water, which tadpoles require for development. These frogs can live in trees, and they colonize mountainous regions where ponds are rare.

Here's an interesting tidbit about these frogs: They've unfortunately and accidentally been introduced into Hawaii, where they're doing extremely well. Hawaii has so many Caribbean tree frogs, in fact, and their calls are so loud that people are reportedly being kept awake! (People who finally do get to sleep are generally awakened again by the thousands of introduced wild chickens — which, on the island of Kauai, have no natural predators, but that's a story for another day.)

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