Recipe for Frog Foam Is Quite Unnatural | The Institute for Creation Research
Recipe for Frog Foam Is Quite Unnatural

Some frogs build nests to hold their eggs by whipping up a kind of floating foam. A recent study discovered that the proper frothy architecture is only achieved by following precise construction parameters. How did the frogs acquire such a sophisticated building technique?

Tungara frogs, native to Central and South America, have to build their nests just right in order to preserve the next generation. Researchers caught the process on camera and were able to discern that “the nesting process is sophisticated.”1 They discovered many interesting specifications that the nest must meet, as well as how these frogs meet them. The nests appear to be part of an irreducibly complex system, meaning that if even one aspect of the nest building procedure is removed, the whole system collapses.

The failure of the nests would spell the end of these frogs. This means that from their beginning, Tungara frogs must have possessed all of the necessary habits and materials for their peculiar nesting recipe.

In their study published in the Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters, co-authors Laura Dalgetty and Malcolm Kennedy outlined the “particular biophysical challenges” that these frogs have to overcome to construct their floating foam fortresses.1 They must first be able to manufacture the right kind of foam, which is trickier than it may at first appear. The foam needs the correct protein material, which the female secretes. While sitting on her back, the male uses his hind feet to mix the secretion with water and “then increasingly with air.” If he doesn’t do it correctly, this “would result in rapid dilution of the surfactant proteins required to create foam,”1 and no nest at all would result. These surfactants are necessary to reduce the water’s surface tension.

In addition to the building specifications of the nest, other factors need to be in place to protect the eggs. With the right material and directions to make a “full quality building foam,”1 anti-microbial and anti-insect factors need to be added to keep the otherwise vulnerable eggs from being consumed. However, these factors must not react negatively with the eggs.

The eggs also have to be placed deeply enough into the foam nest so that they do not dry out. On the other hand, if they are buried too deeply, they couldn't get oxygen. Thus, the whole nest must be maintained at a particular size and shape.

The research showed that the frogs follow a three-phase nest-building process. In all three steps, the male frog mixes for a certain amount of time and rests between mixing. In the first phase, the basement foam is whipped up. In the second and main building phase, the male rests for 14 seconds about 200 times “like clockwork.”2 While the nest is being built, the male places the eggs carefully into its center. In the third phase, the number of rests increases gradually until the nest is complete.

Each detail required for the successful incubation of the eggs is taken care of. The male frog even knows to keep his lungs inflated so that he both remains afloat and positioned to keep the nest rounded. Also, since the eggs can only be protected from UV light damage when they are lying behind a one-centimeter-deep outer cortex, the father frog makes sure they are secured there.

Kennedy told BBC News that these nests “are exposed to full sunlight, high temperatures, all kinds of infections, including parasitic ones, and yet they survive for four days without any damage, until the tadpoles leave―or if there aren’t any eggs, they’ll last for two weeks. And unlike other foams, they do not damage the membranes of eggs and sperm. They are a remarkable biological material.”2 He suggested that this kind of material could have medical applications, such as a spray that could be used with burn victims to protect them from infection.

If the frogs’ foamy material is remarkable, then the precise recipe required to build it is even more so. Unlike the material, the knowledge needed to construct it is immaterial―information placed into this particular frog kind. Just like a baking recipe, it involves material ingredients, certain amounts specified for each, and exact directions on how to manipulate each item to produce a desired product.

But unlike a baking recipe, the end result of this procedure is a new generation of complex, specified life. Such a precise, “sophisticated” process could never have been developed through random, natural forces. Instead, it points to a Creator who brilliantly engineered all things to fit their individual places and purpose.

References

  1. Dalgetty, L., and M. W. Kennedy. Building a home from foam—túngara frog foam nest architecture and three-phase construction process. Biology Letters. Published online before print January 27, 2010.
  2. Morelle, R. How to whip up the perfect frothy frog ‘meringue’ nest. BBC News. Posted on news.bbc.co.uk January 29, 2010, accessed February 2, 2010.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on February 10, 2010.

The Latest
NEWS
Embarrassment Continues over Evolutionary Blunder about “Junk...
Recent research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) continues to highlight how evolutionary theory influenced...

NEWS
God’s Plan Is Best: Salmon Need Saltwater Acclimation
Once again, results are better when aquaculture imitates the natural life cycle of Atlantic salmon.1,2 In other words, the closer fish farmers...

NEWS
Inside August 2020 Acts & Facts
Have you heard about ICR’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza? What can we learn from an old prayer? Is creation evidence...

NEWS
After 30 Years, Red Kites Soar in British Skies
Good news is always welcome. So, it’s good to learn of another conservation comeback. This time it’s the red kite happily soaring in Great...

CREATION PODCAST
Meet Dr. G
Hear the history and heart of ICR’s newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza. He has served as ICR’s National...

ACTS & FACTS
'Doing Business' in Good Times and Bad
No doubt many of you, like me, have been earnestly looking for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He called all believers to be godly “salt”...

APOLOGETICS
Sentinels Are Needed in Perilous Times
Watch out! Dangers lurk everywhere—these are surely perilous times.1 One of the apologetics-exhorting themes in Jude’s epistle...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Don't Raindrops Bomb Butterfly Wings?
Okay, I admit most folks have probably not thought to ask this creation question. But a bigger question gets answered when we examine the fantastic...

ACTS & FACTS
Believe Anyway
by Scott Arledge and Brian Thomas, Ph.D. Some within the creation community make the claim that they would believe God’s Word about the age...

DISCOVERY CENTER
The ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History Updates*
Plan your trip at ICRdiscoverycenter.org, where you’ll find ticket information, discounted rates for nearby hotels, and links to other...