Frogs and Frogettes

Why did the frog cross the street? She loved the open toad… I mean road!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

But if the frog crossed the street in winter? Salt on the road would keep driving conditions safe. Not so safe for frogs, perhaps..

Enter ecologists from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. They were worried, specifically, that road salt could be affecting gender ratios in frog populations.

To test the theory, they put tadpoles in water tanks, then added road salt. Before adding salt, they had a healthy mix of males and females. But after being reared in salty water? Researchers counted 10 percent fewer lady frogs. Why the transition?

Turns out, certain molecules in the salt were acting like testosterone in the developing frogs. This means road salt can actually change natural-born females into males. Yikes!

Sadly, off-balance gender ratios could put frog populations – and their dating scenes – at risk. However, this ribbiting research could pave the road for future solutions!

So why DID the frog cross the road? Wait… Frog or frogette? These days, it’s all so amPHIguous!