Researchers were surprised when they ran across a toad in a forest in Connecticut with no face. The species was an adult American toad and kept jumping into the researchers while they were trying to study newts.
They tried to figure out how the toad ended up with no face.
Toad With No Face
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst were studying newts in a state forest in Connecticut when they ran into the toad. Herpetologist Jill Fleming saw that the toad had no eyes, nose, jaws or a tongue. It did have an opening where its face used to be.
Still puzzled by this find from 2016! An apparently “faceless” toad. Kept hopping into things. Had a small mouth hole- maybe esphogus/glottis (no maxilla or mandible, I think)? It was early spring so I think it must have come out of brumation like this. Any thoughts herp Twitter? pic.twitter.com/bFSLlakhs1 — Jill Fleming (@salamander_jill) February 27, 2018
Fleming shared the picture and video of the toad from 2016, asking other herpetologists for questions regarding the toad. Fleming's posts say the toad kept "hopping into things" when her team ran into the toad. She threw the mystery to other herpetologists who may be able to shed light on what happened to the toad.
Found the video. pic.twitter.com/cZJhDWEzOm — Jill Fleming (@salamander_jill) February 27, 2018
Live Science throws the theory that the toad may have ended up like this due to brumation - the hibernation-like state that cold-blooded animals go into when the weather becomes too cold. The toad was injured, healed its injuries during brumation and then reawakening already in this state.
Another expert weighed into Fleming's tweet saying that this could be caused by flesh-eating toad fly larvae. These larvae eat toads' soft tissues and weaken their bones, according to Lydia Franklinos, a wildlife veterinarian.
One more theory that could have led to the toad becoming faceless also involves brumation. A predator found the frog during brumation and ate its face off. While the toads tend to hide, it may have left its face exposed leading to the toad losing its face.
This is the theory that Fleming believes actually happened to the frog. Its injuries were sustained during its hibernation.
"I believe the injury happened during hibernation because it seemed to have healed over, which I don't think it would have the opportunity to have done outside the toad's hibernacula," she said Fleming to National Geographic.
Someone asked Fleming if the toad was preserved after the video was taken but Fleming confirmed that the toad had not been preserved for study.
The American toad is a medium-sized toad that can range from 5 to 9 centimeters. Their skin color can be affected by habitat colors, humidity, stress, and temperature. Colors of the frog can range from yellow to brown to black. The American toad is found in the eastern portion of the U.S. and Canada.