Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Not Dead Frog

There are lots of strange creatures in the wonderful Silent World Aquarium in Tenby.

One of them is this.

It's an African Clawed Frog. Xenopus Laevis if you like Latin names. It means Really Boring Frog. Okay, it probably doesn't, but it should do.

For some reason the school I went to had a small obsession with these and there were always a few in tanks in the biology lab. Somehow I became the proud owner of one for a while. It was a very dull pet.

The photo above might as well be a video, because this is what the African Clawed Frog does, mostly. It hangs there in the water, motionless, with an air of deadness about it.

So lifeless does it look that Silent World for a while had a notice next to it that simply said "This frog is not dead."

However, it does have one claim to fame - you can use it for pregnancy testing. And indeed they used to, right until the 1960s. If you inject a female African Really Boring Frog with the urine of a pregnant woman, it will spawn spontaneously within eight to ten hours, apparently. Not pregnant = no spawn.

All very well and I'm sure that many women have been either thrilled or horrified by such spawning.

What I'd like to know is - - who first had the idea that this might work? And how did they think of it?

"Darling, I think we might be hearing the patter of tiny feet soon. The Curse is two weeks late."

"Oh, poppet, how wonderful! But how can we be certain? Oh look, there's an African Clawed Frog that your Cousin Tristram brought back from his latest expedition to the Dark Continent. Perhaps that might come in useful to help us to find out."

"Oh, what a frightfully good idea, darling! Now then, what should we try? - - "

It's a good job things have moved on. I'm glad that when I was pregnant with Olli, I didn't have to pop down to the chemists to buy an African Clawed Frog.


Blogger Jennytc said...

I am still giggling at this post! These days, tests seem to be so good that you can find out if you're pregnant almost before you are!

9:41 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

It's like the old puzzle of who was the first person to have the bright idea that something that popped out of a chicken's butt would be good to eat ?!

And just what did these poor frogs spawn ? A slightly yellow coloured froglet ? I'm off to surf for answers to these vital questions.....

11:10 pm  
Blogger Bernard said...

"Xenopus" sounds like a cat who hates foreigners!

11:11 am  
Blogger Debby said...

OMG! Awesome post!

1:36 am  

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