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Animal communication

Complex call production in the túngara frog

Naturevolume 441page38 (2006) | Download Citation


  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 19 July 2006

An intricate vocal anatomy underlies the subtleties of this animal's melodic mating calls.


Animals' sound-producing organs often act as an integrated whole — particular vocal structure are not directly associated with the creation of discrete syllables1,2,3,4. But here we show that the ‘chuck’ of the ‘whine-chuck’ mating call of the túngara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus, is caused by a fibrous mass attached to the vocal folds; the chuck is eliminated by removal of this structure, although the frog still tries to produce the sound. Sexual selection affects the acoustic complexity of the frog's call5,6,7, so evolution may have shaped this unusual vocalization, which is akin to the two-voiced song of songbirds6,8.

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Author information

Author notes

    • M. Gridi-Papp

    Present address: Department of Physiological Science, University of California, Los Angeles, California, 90095, USA


  1. Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, 13506-900, São Paulo, Brazil

    • M. Gridi-Papp
  2. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado, 2072, Balboa, Panama

    • A. S. Rand
    •  & M. J. Ryan
  3. Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, 78712, Texas, USA

    • M. J. Ryan


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. J. Ryan.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary information

    (DOC 107 kb)

  2. Supplementary audio 1

    Advertisement call of a túngara frog recorded in the wild before surgical removal of the laryngeal fibrous masses. The second component of the call is half the fundamental frequency of the first component. (WAV 51 kb)

  3. Supplementary audio 2

    Advertisement call of the same túngara frog after surgical removal of the laryngeal fibrous masses. The odd harmonics of the second component of the call are missing. (WAV 51 kb)

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