- Frogs can lift 1.4 times their body weight with just their tongues. That’s like a human lifting a refrigerator with their tongue.
- Researchers found that frogs can snatch their prey in under .07 seconds, five times faster than you can blink.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Imagine if you could stick out your tongue and lick your belly button. Turns out that would be an easy feat for a frog if they actually had belly buttons.
A frog’s tongue is one-third of its body length, and that’s just the start of this miraculous body part. That long tongue is covered with thousands of mucus glands, which secrete some of the stickiest spit on Earth. In fact, when researchers studied horned frog saliva in 2014, they found these frogs could lift 1.4 times their own body weight with their sticky tongues. That’s like a human lifting a refrigerator with their tongue!
Because of this, frogs don’t go whipping out their tongues for fun, but when they finally do, it can grab a meal straight out of the air. You see, although frogs can’t fly, many hunt some of the fleetest, most agile winged animals like flies, moths, and dragonflies. They don’t even have to chase their meals. They just sit and wait.
It’s even more impressive when you consider that flies experience time more slowly than other animals. Each second feels like four seconds to a fly, so they have all the time in the world to escape a predator. Just think about the last time you tried swatting a fly. Not so easy, right?
Well, frogs have a trick up their sleeve: an ultra-fast tongue. Their tongue is made of two powerful muscle groups: an extender and a retractor. The extender fires the tongue towards its prey at an astounding 4 meters per second. At the same time, the frog flicks its jaws open, which rotates the tongue as it fires, like a speeding bullet. Bam! Before you can blink, it’s all over.
Researchers found that frogs can snatch their prey in under .07 seconds, five times faster than you can blink. But speed isn’t a frog’s only weapon.
A frog’s tongue is 10 times softer than ours, about as pliable as your brain, in fact. And this softness makes it super flexible so it can wrap itself around its victim, slathering the fly with a super sticky saliva, trapping it in place like glue. This fly is going nowhere. All that’s left to do is reel it in.
The frog’s retractor muscle yanks on the tongue, which zooms backwards like a bungee cord. Within 15/100s of a second, it disappears back into the mouth.
To dislodge its prize, the frog sucks its eyeballs back into its head. That pressure slides the prey off its tongue, ready to be swallowed whole.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in March 2019.
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