The African clawed frog is the world’s most widely distributed amphibian. It can be found lurking in ponds on four continents apart from Africa. There is even a population of albino African clawed frogs in China.
The first description of the African clawed frog by Western naturalists was made in the early 1800s. Even back then scientists could immediately see that it was special. No one had seen anything like it before. It sported black claws on the hind legs, sensory organs on its sides (like a fish) and upward-facing eyes.
How did an odd-looking southern African frog become a denizen of the world? According to Sir John Gurdon, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who dedicated his career to African clawed frog research, it has to do with a fortuitous combination of the “specific histories of empire and of endocrinology”. MORE
Header image: African clawed frogs are very easy to keep in the lab.They were readily adopted by scientists as a model research animal. Credit: Author supplied.