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A frog’s defensive posture almost seems borrowed from sumo great

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A Japanese equivalent of the English idiom “deer in the headlights” may be “hebi ni niramareta kaeru,” which literally translates as “a frog being glared at by a snake.”

The poor frog is paralyzed with terror, and its fate appears all but sealed.

But contrary to this common notion, research by zoologist Nozomi Nishiumi suggests that the frog’s seeming paralysis is a deliberate defensive posture that best ensures its survival.

Nishiumi, 33, videotaped interactions between “shimahebi” (Japanese striped snake) and “tonosamagaeru” (black-spotted pond frog), both indoors and outdoors.

Analyses of the images showed that when the frog takes a pre-emptive leap, that raises the chances of the snake........

© The Asahi Shimbun