Absurd Creature of the Week: Emei mustache toad
This Toad Grows a Spiky Mustache and Stabs Rivals for the Ladies
by Matt Simon
This dapper little amphibian doesn’t just walk into the breeding season unarmed. For one chaotic month a year in China, males grow extremely sharp facial spikes, which they use to shank rivals for the choicest nesting sites.
Some 90 percent of all males end up injured. Victors win the right to mate. Losers shuffle away and seriously consider never growing a mustache again, because maybe it wasn’t a good idea in the first place and they were just curious how it would look, like that one time when I was in high school.
Their weapons are called, no joke, nuptial spines, and they’re made of keratin — the same stuff as your fingernails. The spines grow straight through the toad’s skin, and although they will at times pop off in combat, they’ll simply sprout once again, only to fall off at the end of the breeding season.
And if you think that mustache is handsome, wait until you hear about the toad’s other transformations. Its forearms will actually buff up considerably in the mating season, like a bro during a Jersey Shore summer. This, according to evolutionary biologist Cameron Hudson, likely aids both in combat and in amplexus: the amphibian sexy-time, in which strong forelimbs will help the male grasp the female…
(read more: Wired Science)
photographs by Cameron Hudson