How Frogs Swallow Their Prey

How Frogs Swallow Their Prey - Cane Toad
Cane Toad

Most of us know that frogs extend their tongues which stick to their prey, and then draw it back into their mouths. High-speed videos show that frogs unroll their tongues like party horns and wrap their targets in an adhesive hug. What science has not understood is how frogs swallow. What happens when they close their mouths? Rachel Keeffe is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow who has released a study showing how frogs process whatever their tongues bring into their mouths.

Keeffe and her colleagues attached metallic beads at various points in the mouths of cane toads, among the largest frog species. They wanted to study what happens to food once it is in the frog’s mouth. There is a very complex system of cartilage and muscles traveling so far down the frog’s throat that it butts up against the heart. Once there, chemicals secreted in a stomach-like chamber digest it, bringing the nutrients into the frog’s vascular system.

When we examine how frogs swallow, we see that even the simplest life forms have highly complex systems. Frogs control insects and other forms of life that threaten humans. In turn, a variety of birds and fish eat frogs. The world around us speaks volumes of God’s wisdom and design, allowing life to exist on Earth. Romans 1:20 tells us that we can know there is a God through the things He has made. We see that again in the design of how frogs swallow.

— John N. Clayton © 2023