Why Scientists Tried to Bring Extinct, Baby-Belching Frogs Back to Life

Kirstin Fawcett
Gross Science
Gross Science / Gross Science

An estimated 200 frog species have gone extinct since the 1970s. Many of them were likely infected with a fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as the chytrid fungus. The fungus thickens the frogs’ skin, which makes it hard for them to breathe and interferes with their electrolyte balance. The infection can also lead to cardiac arrest.

Some of these ill-fated amphibians belonged to a genus called gastric-brooding frogs. They consisted of two closely related species: the northern (Rheobatrachus vitellinus) and southern (Rheobatrachus silus) gastric brooding frogs, both of which died off by the mid-1980s.

The frogs didn't have a unique appearance, but the females gave birth in a bizarre way: They vomited up their babies. In the video below, Gross Science host Anna Rothschild explains why the gastric brooding frog had such an unusual pregnancy, how its young stayed alive inside the stomach, and why scientists recently tried to bring the infant-belching frog back to life.

[h/t Gross Science]