Parasite Creating Deformed Frogs in Western U.S.
Hot spots of "grotesque" infections are shifting, research suggests.
A flatworm parasite called Ribeiroia ondatrae infects several species of frogs just as they're developing their limbs, causing an assortment of defects such as no legs or even multiple legs that jut out at weird angles from the frogs' bodies scientists say.
(Watch a video of the deformed frogs.)
The deformed frogs are often unable to move and either die or quickly get eaten by predators.
Scientists already knew that the parasite was the culprit in the frog malformations, but the researchers wanted to find out whether known hot spots of Ribeiroia populations in four western states had changed since they were last surveyed in 1999.
So in 2010 Pieter Johnson, an ecologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and colleagues