Scientists discover the secret behind the transparency of glass frogs

glass frog

A frog that becomes mostly transparent while sleeping may hold clues to understanding blood clotting in humans.

Scientists have known about the glass frog for a long time but did not understand how it made itself transparent.

Now research has found that he is able to collect blood in his body without being negatively affected by clots.

The findings could advance medical understanding of dangerous blood clotting – a common serious condition.

The glass frog – which is about the size of a marshmallow – spends its days sleeping on bright green leaves in the tropics.

In order to escape the attention of predators, the creature makes itself up to 61% transparent, disguising itself on the sheet.

Glass frogs sleeping on leaves turn transparent to hide from predators

Glass frogs sleeping on leaves become transparent and hidden from predators

“If you turned these frogs upside down, you could see their hearts beating on their own. You can see through the skin and see the muscle, the majority of the body cavity is really transparent,” said Jesse Delia, a researcher at the History Museum. natural. in New York, the United States told BBC News.

Now, discoveries by M. Delia and Carlos Taboada at Duke University, USA, have uncovered how glass frogs perform this highly unusual function.

By shining different wavelengths of light through the animals while they were active and asleep, scientists measured their opacity. They discovered that the creatures were accumulating blood in their livers.

“They somehow pack most of the red blood cells in the liver, so they’re removed from the blood plasma. They’re still circulating plasma…but they do it somehow without trigger a massive clot,” says Delia.

The frog has different levels of red blood cells that circulate when asleep and when active

The frog has different levels of red blood cells that circulate when asleep and when active

Up to 89% of the animal’s blood cells pile up, almost doubling the size of the liver and allowing the frog to turn transparent.

At night, when the creature wants to become active again to hunt or mate, it releases the red blood cells into the circulation and the liver shrinks again.

Mr. Taboada explains that the frog is still able to clot blood when needed, such as when injured.

This ability to selectively pool and coagulate blood is the creature’s “superpower”, he says, and could open the doors to a better understanding of blood clotting more generally.

In most animals, the pooling of blood leads to clotting which can be fatal, leading for example to heart attacks in humans.

But the researchers point out that transferring this knowledge to practical application in human medicine could take decades.

The research is published in the scientific journal Science.

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