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J Exp Biol. 2004 Jan;207(Pt 3):475-82.

Effect of aestivation on long bone mechanical properties in the green-striped burrowing frog, Cyclorana alboguttata.

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  • 1School of Life Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


The green-striped burrowing frog, Cyclorana alboguttata, survives extended drought periods by burrowing underground and aestivating. These frogs remain immobile within cocoons of shed skin and mucus during aestivation and emerge from their burrows upon heavy rains to feed and reproduce. Extended periods of immobilisation in mammals typically result in bone remodelling and a decrease in bone strength. We examined the effect of aestivation and, hence, prolonged immobilisation on cross-sectional area, histology and bending strength in the femur and tibiofibula of C. alboguttata. Frogs were aestivated in soil for three and nine months and were compared with control animals that remained active, were fed and had a continual supply of water. Compared with the controls, long bone size, anatomy and bending strength remained unchanged, indicating an absence of disuse osteoporosis. This preservation of bone tissue properties enables C. alboguttata to compress the active portions of their life history into unpredictable windows of opportunity, whenever heavy rains occur.

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