Foot-Flaggin’ Frogs

Waving the white flag has a seductive new meaning!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying surrender — to the power of amphibian love.

Meet the Bornean rock frog. These creatures live near waterfalls, and enjoy long hops on the beach. However, these romantic scenes are also quite noisy.

Many frogs use their characteristic croaks to woo potential mates. But, these sweet nothings can’t compete with noisy environments.

Instead, the male rock frog has evolved an acrobatic display. He extends one back leg over his head, revealing white-colored foot webbing—foot flags! This not-so-subtle display has a dual purpose: It lets the ladies know that love’s afoot, and it tells rivals to back off.

Researchers at Wake Forest University injected testosterone into rock frogs. They found that this increased flagging behavior. In fact, just like other sexual gestures, testosterone is responsible for this display. This study provides insight on how hormones can act on specific muscles.

In short, if Kermit thinks it’s not easy being green … he might want to try switching to white for his very own kermit-sutra. Sorry!