The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-01-2010, 03:38 AM
Zerc Zerc is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Pretoria, Gauteng
Posts: 152
Can frogs/amphibian breath underwater

I was always under the impression that amphibians could breath both in water and in air. It appears that I may have been incorrect for all of my life.

I looked up amphibian on Wikipedia and it says that "Amphibian is derived from the Ancient Greek term amphíbios which means both kinds of life, amphi meaning “both” and bio meaning life. The term was initially used for all kinds of combined natures. Eventually it was used to refer to animals that live both in the water and on land." It also states that as part of the amphibian metamorphosis "The gills are replaced by other respiratory organs, i.e., lungs."

Nothing actually mentions that adult amphibians can breath under water although it appears that their gills are replaced by lungs. I suppose this means that adult amphibians can only breath in air and juvenile amphibians can only breath under water. Is this correct?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 02-01-2010, 03:57 AM
naita naita is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zerc View Post
I was always under the impression that amphibians could breath both in water and in air. It appears that I may have been incorrect for all of my life.

I looked up amphibian on Wikipedia and it says that "Amphibian is derived from the Ancient Greek term amphíbios which means both kinds of life, amphi meaning “both” and bio meaning life. The term was initially used for all kinds of combined natures. Eventually it was used to refer to animals that live both in the water and on land." It also states that as part of the amphibian metamorphosis "The gills are replaced by other respiratory organs, i.e., lungs."

Nothing actually mentions that adult amphibians can breath under water although it appears that their gills are replaced by lungs. I suppose this means that adult amphibians can only breath in air and juvenile amphibians can only breath under water. Is this correct?
Not completely. Amphibians can also "breathe" through their skin.

Quote:
Both the lungs and the skin serve as respiratory organs in amphibians. The skin of these animals is highly vascularized and moist, with moisture maintained via secretion of mucus from specialized cells. While the lungs are of primary importance to breathing control, the skin's unique properties aid rapid gas exchange when amphibians are submerged in oxygen-rich water.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respira...tem#Amphibians
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-01-2010, 03:57 AM
Fake Tales of San Francisco Fake Tales of San Francisco is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Yes, generally amphibians will give birth in the water and a metamorphosis will occur amongst their young. They lose the gills and gain lungs. But I frogs and toads can breathe through their skin, which allows them to breathe underwater and also buried in soil. Though they cannot do this indefinitely, I'm not sure exactly how long they can do this for.

Edit: beaten to it, disregard.

Last edited by Fake Tales of San Francisco; 02-01-2010 at 03:58 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-01-2010, 04:13 AM
Zerc Zerc is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Pretoria, Gauteng
Posts: 152
OK, so I was half-right and half-wrong. Sometimes I wonder why can't things just be simple?

Thanks for the replies
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-01-2010, 07:38 AM
Serenata67 Serenata67 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zerc View Post
OK, so I was half-right and half-wrong. Sometimes I wonder why can't things just be simple?

Thanks for the replies
We could be talking about a platypus... and then there's no half-anything. That thing is a weird mess of nature...
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-01-2010, 09:37 AM
jayjay jayjay is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
There are also some types of salamander that retain their gills into adulthood, like axolotls, sirens and mudpuppies.

Last edited by jayjay; 02-01-2010 at 09:41 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-01-2010, 11:33 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 10,494
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
There are also some types of salamander that retain their gills into adulthood, like axolotls, sirens and mudpuppies.
Likewise, there are also terrestrial salamanders that largely lack lungs.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-01-2010, 11:42 AM
Colibri Colibri is online now
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 26,007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fake Tales of San Francisco View Post
Though they cannot do this indefinitely, I'm not sure exactly how long they can do this for.
Frogs in the temperate zone often hibernate in the mud at the bottom of ponds. While their metabolism is very slow at this time, they can survive without access to air for many months.

If the water is well-aerated (as in mountain streams) or if the frog is inactive it can probably survive underwater nearly indefinitely.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:10 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.