Saturday, July 7, 2012

Losing Our Tails

On our recent visit to the creek we found that many of the tadpoles (also known as pollywogs or porwigles) have begun their transformation into froghood. They are adorable.

At this stage of a tadpoles life it has just begun to grow hind limbs. Its lungs are now forming inside its body. Soon it will be terrestrial but for now it must remain in water.

As the tadpole matures its body slowly absorbs its tail. This process is known as apoptosis. Apoptosis is a process that literally is a programmed cell death. In tadpoles the cells that make up its tail begin to shrink and die off and are reabsorbed by its body.

Once the tadpole has both front and hind limbs it no longer must be in water. However, they still spend a great majority of time in or near water.

 During the final stages of the tadpole's metamorphosis, the tadpole's mouth changes from a small, enclosed mouth at the front of the head to a large mouth the same width as the head. At this point they begin to resemble frogs and no longer look like tadpoles, other than their tail of course.

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