An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Young Green Frogs Absorbing Tails

6-30-16  green frog metamorphosing 183Generally speaking, green frog tadpoles that hatch early in the season will transform into frogs by mid-to late summer.  Tadpoles that hatch late are likely to overwinter in their ponds and metamorphose late the following spring or early in the summer. Thus, the Green Frogs you see now with both legs and a tail spent the winter as tadpoles and are maturing now.

A specific process called “apoptosis” occurs as the tail is absorbed by the frog.  It involves programmed cell death, and occurs in various forms in multicellular organisms.   Humans experience apoptosis throughout their lives.  It is responsible for the separation of fingers and toes in a developing embryo, as the cells between the digits undergo apoptosis and it is responsible for the death of between 50 and billion cells each day in the average human adult.  Once it has begun, apoptosis cannot stop, and thus is a highly regulated process.

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6 responses

  1. I’ve never seen this stage – great image, Mary.

    June 29, 2016 at 3:17 pm

  2. Thanks so much, Eliza. They’re everywhere here right now.

    June 29, 2016 at 5:24 pm

  3. k

    What area are you in Mary? I’ve never seen this stage before, either.

    June 29, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    • I’m in central Vermont. Perhaps further south they all mature in one summer? But at some point, all frogs do absorb their tails!

      June 29, 2016 at 7:43 pm

  4. So interesting to see this photo. It seems that their lungs are fully developed at this stage. It must be a bit awkward for them to get around on land. About how long does it take for the tail to resorb?

    June 29, 2016 at 10:43 pm

  5. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature

    Thank you so much! I love all your pictures and info. I plan to get some of your books soon. I love your site.

    June 29, 2016 at 11:35 pm

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