Biologists have discovered the secret of the transparency of frogs

(ORDO NEWS) — In South America, there are several species of glass frogs – small amphibians that become almost completely transparent during daytime sleep. Now scientists understand how they do it.

There are many animals that can become almost transparent, but most of them are sea dwellers.

Among the terrestrial fauna, this method of disguise is much less common, especially in vertebrates, whose bloodstream is saturated with erythrocytes – blood cells whose red color is difficult to hide.

However, there is a whole family of small amphibians, which are called glass frogs.

They live in South America and are active mainly at night, while during the day they climb onto the leaves and freeze, becoming almost transparent. But where do the erythrocytes go in this case?

To answer this question, a group of American biologists tried to conduct laboratory studies of the mechanism of transparency, but ran into a problem.

It turned out that frogs become transparent only when they fall asleep peacefully, without experiencing anxiety: if scientists tried to euthanize animals with anesthesia, they remained opaque.

To overcome this snag, the authors of the new study had to use photoacoustic microscopy techniques, in which a harmless laser beam enters living tissue, is absorbed by its molecules and converted into ultrasonic waves, which are then used to create detailed biomedical images of molecules.

So biologists managed to track red blood cells in the body of sleeping frogs without introducing special substances to amphibians and, in principle, without touching them with their hands.

The results were amazing: at the time of sleep, 90 percent of the frog’s red blood cells left its bloodstream and concentrated in the liver, leaving it only in the process of awakening the animal.

It is not yet clear how red blood cells do not stick together at such a dense concentration and do not form a blood clot: research in this area will not only be interesting, but can also help people suffering from vascular problems.

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