Frogs are amphibians belonging to the taxonomic order
anura, a term derived from Greek words that together
mean "without tail." Most frogs are characterized by
a short body, webbed digits, protruding eyes, and the
absence of a tail. Frogs are widely known as exceptional
jumpers, and many of the adaptations that are characteristic
of frogs, particularly their long, powerful legs, serve
to improve jumping performance.
The average frog measures between 2.5 and 4 inches
in length and weighs around 23 grams, or 0.05 lb. The
largest extant frog is Africa's Goliath frog, which
can measure up to 13 inches long and weigh over 7 lb.
The smallest extant frog is Papua New Guinea's Paedophryne
amauensis, which measures 0.3 inches long and is the
world's smallest known vertebrate, or animal with a
Frogs can be found on all continents except for Antarctica,
but do not occupy some islands, particularly those that
are not close to large landmasses. Though frogs have
semi-permeable skin that makes them susceptible to dehydration,
those living in drier habitats have adaptations that
allow for their survival; frogs therefore occupy many
different types of ecosystems in several biomes, in
which they tend to serve as important parts of their
respective food chains.
Frogs are largely carnivorous, and capture insects
and other small animals using their long, sticky tongues;
frogs rapidly flick their tongues at their prey, then
quickly retract their tongues, to which the prey has
stuck, into their mouths. To combat predation, many
species of frogs secrete substances that make the frog
slippery to the touch and therefore hard to capture;
mild toxins that taste unpleasant; and poisons that
can severely damage predators. Frogs may also have colorations
that allow them to camouflage with their environments
or that disguise them as poisonous frogs.
Because frogs are amphibians, they are ectothermic,
or "cold-blooded." Frogs' body temperatures therefore
vary based on their environments. Frogs often regulate
their body temperatures by moving into or out of sunlight
or exposing minimal or maximum amounts of their bodies'
surface areas to the air. Frogs' colourations also vary
based on sun exposure to prevent them from overheating;
one species, the normally grey southern foam-nest tree
frog, can even turn white under the appropriate conditions
to prevent overheating.
Frogs can be considered culturally significant, appearing
in several fairy tales, literature, and other media
from varying cultures. One of the most famous fictional
frogs is the one who befriends a princess and ultimately
turns into a handsome prince in the classic fairy tale.
Kermit the Frog of The Muppet Show and Sesame Street
is another famous and culturally relevant fictional
frog. Frogs are particularly important in Panama's culture;
Panamanian golden frogs are part of local legends, and
the frogs appear throughout the country on commodities
such as T-shirts and lottery tickets, and on an overpass
in Panama City, the country's capital.
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