Horror frog

The Central African hairy frog can break its own bones and stick them through its skin as impromptu claws.

Horror frog
J. Green, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A short one today, because there’s not much to say about this frog apart from the fact that it is a complete horror show. The hairy frog, Trichobatrachus robustus, has one of the more disturbing defence mechanisms known to herpetology. When threatened, the hairy frog breaks the bones of its toes and pushes them through the skin, creating a series of sharp claw-like protuberances.

Why yes, one of its nicknames is the Wolverine frog, why do you ask?

I call these things claw-like because they’re really just sharp bone, whereas claws are made of keratin (the same material as hooves, hair, scales, feathers, and horns). The only frogs – and, indeed, the only amphibians – to have real claws are African clawed frogs. Those frogs are also pretty funny because they have historically been used as both a male aphrodisiac and as a human pregnancy test – as I mentioned way back in 2019 when writing about the dead rabbit pregnancy test.

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