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Ribeiroia Ondatrae
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📸 by @davidherasimtschuk via @freshwatersillustrated

This frog had suffered a developmental deformity, caused by the flatworm parasite ribeiroia ondatrae.

In some cases of ribeiroia the frogs legs don’t develop at all, and in others the frog can grow multiple additional hind legs, jutting out at weird angles from the back of their body.

The exact mechanism of the abnormality has not been determined but it has been theorized that deformation results from mechanical disruption of the cells involved in limb bud formation during the amphibian larval stage.

The cycle begins in the ramshorn snail, and once infected the flatworm turns it into a parasite factory, cloning itself inside the snail and releasing hundreds of ribeiroia larvae into whatever wetland they find themself in.

Once they have been released, the parasites seek out the next target in their life cycle: tadpoles

The larvae infiltrate the tissue of the fledgling frogs and target the developing limb buds, so that when the tadpole begins its transformation into a frog they are not able to move as easily or at all – making them perfect targets for the parasites final host: birds

Once a bird consumes one of these infected frogs, the matured parasite reproduces sexually inside it’s new host and when the bird poops it releases the parasites eggs, which will eventually make it back to the ramshorn snail where the cycle will begin all over again.

#natureismetal

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