Many of us have experienced an unpleasant situation while out with friends, dancing the night away, when suddenly someone with a sleazy smile appears on the dance floor. Despite our discomfort, we may be unable to avoid their unwanted advances. However, could it be possible to learn a thing or two from female frogs? According to a recent study, these amphibians have developed a unique way of escaping such situations – by pretending to be dead. It’s a creative approach!
New study shows that female frogs employ very unusual tactics to avoid male attention
As the temperature rises, forests and ponds become a hub of love songs sung by eager male European common frogs determined to mate. Although it may seem romantic to be serenaded under the moonlight, female frogs sometimes need some peace and quiet. But unfortunately, male frogs tend to ignore their reluctance and continue to pursue them. When all else fails, female frogs play dead to avoid further advances.
Female frogs fake their own death so that males will leave them alone
A recently published study, titled “Drop dead! Female mate avoidance in an explosively breeding frog” in the Royal Society Open Science journal, has revealed the tactics that these clever amphibians use to avoid mating with overly eager males. During their mating season, which runs from March to late June, male frogs can become quite aggressive in pursuing females. This can lead to injuries and even fatalities in what are known as “breeding balls.”
Females lay down and stretch out their limbs, imitating rigor mortis
Fortunately, female frogs have evolved a unique ability called “tonic immobility.” By stretching their limbs outwards, they feign rigor mortis and play dead, which is enough to deter any overly eager male suitors and grant females some much-needed peace of mind.
The author of the study, evolutionary and behavioral ecologist Carolin Dittrich, has provided some insightful commentary on this fascinating phenomenon. Previously, it was believed that female frogs were passive and had no say in their mate selection. However, the study revealed that female frogs do indeed have a strong voice. “Females in these dense breeding aggregations are not passive as previously thought,” Dittrich wrote. As per the study, 25 female frogs were able to successfully escape by using the fake death strategy, proving its effectiveness.
This technique repels overeager males who could potentially injure the female frog
Perhaps, “tonic immobility” is something human females should start using as well
So, if you’re planning to go out this weekend, keep this clever trick in mind. If someone refuses to leave you alone, drop to the floor, stretch out your limbs, and stare at them without blinking. After all, if it works for frogs, it could work for humans too!