In the eyes of many predators, the Congolese giant frog would be a tasty treat. The creature manages to escape the gaze of many potential predators, among which we can count lizards, snakes, and birds, with the help of a surprising trick: it mimics the looks and moves of the Gaboon viper, one of the most dangerous snakes in the world.
A large number of animals have learned to imitate other animals in an attempt to evade certain death. Viceroy butterflies feature the same coloring as toxic Monarch butterflies, and many harmless snakes sport the same colors as venomous ones.
However, this is the first case of a toad which manages to imitate a snake. A team of herpetologists spent over ten years collecting data from dead and live frogs spread across 11 sites, which are present in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
At the start of the study, researchers observed that the frog featured an interesting shape on the body, which was similar to the triangular one, which is present on the head of the viper. A remarkable color pattern was also present on the body in the form of two dark brown spots and a dark brown stripe, which can be found on the back.
When the toad senses that it is in a dangerous situation it will start to let out a low hissing noise, which can be compared with the warning hiss made by a Gaboon viper before it attacks its prey.
By grouping these similarities and comparing them with the traits of the Gaboon viper the team of researchers concluded that the frog manages to make a nearly-perfect impression of the deadly predator. They also appeared and evolved within a similar timeframe, which another significant link between the two species, besides the fact that they tend to be present in the same areas.
More data can be found in a study that was published in a scientific journal.