In one corner, we have the “hairy” frog, Trichobatrachus robustus, hailing from Cameroon.
In the other corner, meet the Spanish ribbed newt, Pleurodeles waltl, hailing from the Iberian peninsula.
Which skin-busting, bone-poking amphibian will win the PopSci deathmatch?
Our frog contender, when provoked, contracts muscles in its front feet, which causes clawlike bones to cut through its skin. The hairy frog’s skin and artery strands that hang off its torso like a beard during mating season (thought to help it absorb more oxygen) are a fright to many humans, although it might not have any effect on hypothetical newt assailants.
The other contender, the newt, pushes its ribs to the side until their pointy ends pierce through its skin, producing a row of barbs, say scientists who published a study of the little beast last week. These barbs are poisonous because the newt secretes a deadly chemical on its skin, which the ribs pick up while tearing through the animal’s own flesh.
Many amphibians naturally have some super healing strength compared to mammals (think: leaving your tail behind and then growing a new one), which probably makes such stunts possible.
So, which would be the victor in the battle? And which one is more deserving of a place in Professor X’s band of mutants?