Wolverine Frog: Phylogeny, Environment, Adaptation, and Selection Pressures

Subject: Sciences
Pages: 2
Words: 427
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College

The hairy frog is a species of frogs associated with the Central African region. It belongs to the Arthroleptidae family, the genus Trichobatrachus, and is scientifically referred to as Trichobatrachus robustus (Wells 53). Its name originated from the presence of hair-like structures that appear on the body and thighs of males. It is also known as the horror frog or the Wolverine frog.

The hairy frog is terrestrial for most of the year and relocates to freshwater habitats during the breeding season (Bartlett and Bartlett 29). The hairy frog is common in Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Cameroon (Wells 36). Its habitat includes fast-flowing rivers and streams as well as agricultural land. Therefore, their environment comprises terrestrial and freshwater habitats.

All frogs belong to order Anura and are subdivided into two key groups namely the basal-most Leiopelmatidae and Lalagobatrachia.

These two groups separated approximately 225 million years ago. The Leiopelmatidae maintained the key behavioral features that point towards their evolution such as the way of swimming, which is trot-like instead of kick-like swimming.

One of the most unique adaptations of the Wolverine Frog is its natural ability to break its own bones in order to unleash a sharp claw that offers protection against predators (Iszatt par. 3).

  • This claw is located on its feet and only appears when the frog is in danger of attack.
  • It releases the claw by contracting the muscles in its rear feet and causing the claw to appear by piercing the frog’s skin (Wood 23).

Another adaptation is the presence of hairy strands on males during the breeding season (“The Cabinet of Freshwater Curiosities: The Hairy Frog” par. 2).

  • The strands (papillae) are an adaptation that allows the frogs to breathe for longer periods underwater while protecting unhatched eggs from predators (Wells 48).
  • The papillae also facilitate a process known as cutaneous respiration.
  • Need to replicate underwater
    • Hair-like papillae
      • Need for defense against predators
      • Sharp claws from bones
    • Need to anchor on slippery surfaces
      • Sharp claws from bones

How the Adaptations Contribute to Success

The two main adaptations ensure the success of the hairy frog on land.

  • The claws serve as protection against attack thus ensuring survival (predator-prey interactions).
  • The claws help in anchoring on rocks and slippery substances hence enabling the frog to attain stability in slippery environments (interaction with the environment).
  • The hairs assist the male frogs to attain adequate oxygen due to their small lungs and big bodies (interaction with the environment).
  • The hairs enable survival underwater for lengthy periods to safeguard eggs (reproductive success).


Bartlet, Richard, and P. Bartlet. Frogs, Toads, and treefrogs: Everything about Selection, Care, Nutrition, Breeding, and Behavior. New York: Barron Educational Series, 2007. Print.

Iszatt, Allex. The Wolverine of the Amphibian World: Claws Burst Through the frog’s Skin when Threatened by Predators. 2013. Web.

Keating, Fiona. The Frog That Breaks Its Own Bones to Produce Claws that Burst through Its Skin As Weapons… Just Like X-Men’s Wolverine. 2013. Web.