How a pregnancy test for humans caused a wave of global extinctions
2013 05 17

By Joseph Bennington-Castro | io9.com


The deadly fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been wiping out amphibian species across the globe for decades. But how did this global environmental disaster get started? A new study suggests that it came from doctors importing frogs for use in pregnancy tests.

Since the 1980s, amphibian species have experienced a sharp decline in their numbers. Some estimates suggest that 400 or more amphibian species have gone extinct or near extinct since the die-offs began. Scientists eventually pinpointed the major cause of the devastation: chytridiomycosis, a disease brought on by an infection by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd.

When Bd fins its away into an amphibian, it severely thickens the animal’s skin, disrupting its ability to breathe and take in nutrients. Some species have a 100 percent mortality rate — but others survive the infection, seemingly unaffected by the fungus.

One Bd-resistant species is the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). About a decade ago scientists suspected that this particular species may have served as a carrier, and facilitated the spread of chytridiomycosis, when they found Bd in a museum specimen dating back to 1934.

And now, a new analysis now links the spread of the fungus in the U.S. with the spread of X. laevis, which initially began in the early 1900s. You see, at this time people were importing large numbers of the amphibian for use in research and to use as pets. Doctors eventually discovered that the African clawed frog could also be used as a pregnancy test, further increasing the number of frogs imported.

The pregnancy test worked by injecting a woman’s urine under the skin of a female frog. If the woman was actually pregnant, her hormones would stimulate ovulation in the frog. In the 1960s, doctors phased out this practice for more reliable pregnancy tests based on hormonal readings, and many of the test frogs were probably released in the wild. Though these frogs are no longer being imported for pregnancy tests, they are still used in research.

[...]

Read the full article at: io9.com



Related Articles
Frog That Gives Birth Through Mouth to be Brought Back From Extinction
Worlds Cutest Frog - Desert Rain Frog
Common pesticides ’can kill frogs within an hour’
Killer frog virus sweeps Britain wiping out hundreds of thousands of amphibians
Frogs found whose toes morph into claws


Latest News from our Front Page

Pre-historic tokens used in conjunction with cuneiform
2014 07 22
An archaeological dig in southeast Turkey has uncovered a large number of clay tokens that were used as records of trade until the advent of writing, or so it had been believed. But a new find of tokens, dates from a time when writing was commonplace – thousands of years after it was previously assumed this technology had become obsolete. Researchers ...
Are immigration opponents Nazis?
2014 07 22
It seems the usual suspects are calling anyone who opposes unlimited immigration to be a "Nazi". The Left seems to be in constant fear of "Nazis" that lurk in public policy discussions and I assume under their beds. If you oppose any Leftist position, you are a.... take a wild guess...wait for it.... a NAZI! Tim Wise recently went ...
What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?
2014 07 22
Exclusive: The U.S. media’s Ukraine bias has been obvious, siding with the Kiev regime and bashing ethnic Russian rebels and Russia’s President Putin. But now – with the scramble to blame Putin for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down – the shoddy journalism has grown truly dangerous, says Robert Parry. In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to ...
Oh, Great: Robots Are Set to Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews
2014 07 22
Advancing a career in the US government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head who wants to know about that time you took ketamine. Psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) are developing an interview system that uses a responsive on-screen avatar for the first stage of the national security clearance process. Initial screening for a variety ...
Is Anything on the Internet Real Anymore?
2014 07 22
Is there anybody…out there? I promise I’m a real person asking this question and typing this article…but beyond that, I can’t promise much else about anything you or I see on the Internet. This article on ZDNet, “GCHQ’s dark arts: Leaked documents reveal online manipulation, Facebook, YouTube snooping,” confirms — beyond a shadow of any possible doubt — that a barrage of ...
More News »