Leaping Frogs on Leap Day

In honor of Leap Day 2012, learn a bit about how frogs leap

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In honor of Leap Day 2012, we’re featuring some of the leapingest creatures in the Smithsonian Institution: frogs from the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.

The project is a partnership of zoos, parks and organizations—including the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute—to help preserve endangered frog species in Panama. Over the past few decades, a fungus known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (or Bd) has swept through frog populations around the world, causing species in the United States, Australia, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico to go extinct. Eastern Panama is one of the few places left free of Bd, and in order to save the diverse pool of endemic frog species, the project will create protective breeding centers, as well as a new research center at the National Zoo to find a cure for the fungus.

To honor tree frogs, bush frogs, leaf frogs and frogs of all types on this Leap Day, our friends at the project pulled together a list of leaping frog facts:

Not all frogs can leap, or even hop. The desert rain frog (Breviceps macrops) has legs that are too short to hop. Instead, it walks.

Male frogs of the genus Pipa are known to defend their territory by jumping at and then wrestling other males.

The New Guinea bush frog (Asterophrys turpicola) takes jump attacks one step further: before it jumps at a strange frog, it inflates itself and shows off its blue tongue.

Stumpffia tridactyla are normally slow-moving critters, but when they’re startled they can abruptly jump up to 8 inches. That doesn’t sound very far, but these little guys are less than half an inch long!

Read more facts at the project’s website.

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