Enter the world of the xenopus


55 Responses to “Enter the world of the xenopus”

  1. Freaked out frogs look freaked out.

  2. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    And you know I am a bad person because I look at the photo and wonder when they are gonna yell “PULL” and launch them.

  3. davidmang says:

    The Xenopus might be my favorite animal model. It has the sort of alien cuteness that the various lab rats, even the monstrously obese Zucker strain, just can’t quite match.

  4. Arduenn says:

    The plural of Xenopus is Xenopus.

    They were very attractive to scientists because of their large oocytes. It was relatively easy to inject DNA and RNA molecules in these cells and study the function of their respective sequences.

  5. Arduenn says:

    The plural of Xenopus is Xenopus.

    They were very attractive to scientists because of their large oocytes. It was relatively easy to inject DNA and RNA molecules in these cells and study the function of their respective sequences.

    • ablestmage says:

      Language does not have prescribed rules. You can pluralize anything however you want, and the form that you used is what you meant it to mean. The rules you think you know are merely observations of how, in the past, words have been used — not prescriptions for how one would properly or improperly formulate them.

      • Kiscica says:

        Oh don’t be ridiculous.  Vacuously, you can pluralize anything however you want, and it will “mean” what you mean it to mean.  The rules — sorry, lemme change that; I think I prefer “the reel” — are merely observationie of how, in the past, wyrd have been used, not prescriptionie.  But if you want to communicate your ideades to other peoplum without confusing theys, it makes sense to pay attention to the community consensus.  And “xenopus” is virtually always the form used by scientister when speaking of these peculiar fröggen in the plural.

        Source: I have been both a linguist and a biologist in my life (and have used xenopussies in the lab).

    • GawainLavers says:

      Xenopus (Gk., xeno=strange, pous=foot)”, which is to say you pluralize it the same way you pluralize octopus — and we’ve been down that road a few times.

      (Xenopodes dammit!)

      There are two Xenopus species popular with lab work, I think it’s laevis and tropicalis, although I remember people being unclear on the species of one of them.  My fuzzy recollection as an IT guy in a bio lab is that one is good for genetic work, but is very small, and the other is a more manageable size for lab work, but is diploid (or tetraploid), and therefore its genome, however redundant, is some order of magnitude larger.

  6. OldBrownSquirrel says:

    I’ll never forget watching my high school teacher prepping for the embryology unit.  He’d administered some hormone (quite possibly hCG) to the female to induce ovulation, but he still had to squeeze the eggs out of the female as though she were a pastry tube with webbed feet.  The girls in the class were protesting at the rough treatment he was showing to this poor female frog, and he responded by soliciting some sympathy for the male, pointing to a glass petri dish that held two lumps of tissue, which he proceeded to crush with the end of a glass stir rod, a biologist’s mortar and pestle.  “It’s a lot easier to extract the eggs than it is to extract the sperm.”

  7. marukosu says:

    “Inject a female Xenopus with urine from a human female and, if the Xenopus lays eggs, it means the female human is knocked up.”

    Granted I’m no scientist, but how exactly does one go about discovering such a thing?

    • ImmutableMichael says:

      Trial and error. An awful lot of trial, certainly by frog standards.

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      When you gotta go you gotta go!
      And sometimes science happens

    • jackbird says:

       I’m picturing Tim Robbins’ character in The Hudsucker Proxy as the discoverer, trying to promote his invention: “You know, for kids.”

    • chenille says:

      I imagine by finding checking what hormones might induce eggs in frogs, knowing the same are present in human urine, and then putting the two facts together.


    Yet another of nature’s wonders that looks like a Jim Henson invention.

  9. Tim Drage says:

    “Xenopus Enrichment Tube” – boingboing is a goldmine of unintentional band names today :)

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      I’d expect such devices to be manufactured in a facility with the words “the cake is a lie” scrawled on the inside walls of the wire chases and wet-walls.

    • mappo says:

      I thought for sure Maggie was snarking on the name of that product, but I was wrong.

    • GawainLavers says:

      One of my friends bought a huge, half-million dollar machine that was basically a series of staged Xenopus tanks that would mechanically hatch, raise and maybe even breed them, recycling water and nutrient, etc.  I left the lab before she got it and never saw it, but I like to imagine it as a huge version of one of those glass “biosphere” micro-shrimp things with labeled taps at the bottom: “Egg”, “Tadpole”, “Adult”.

      In reality, I think it actually required a great deal of maintenance.

  10. dr.hypercube says:

    And Xenopus are thought to be the vector that introduced chytrid worldwide – one factor in amphibian collapse (for example, Atelopus).

  11. Ken Fager says:

    Who is the genius that first thought, “Hey. I’m going to inject some pregnant pee in that to see what happens.”

  12. Teknad says:

    You forgot some more awesome facts about Xenopus :

    Xenopus can live up to 20-25 years, which you may consider when buying it as a pet.

    Xenopus that have just finished metamorphosis are extremely agressive, and will try to kill any other life form living in the same aquarium as them. My sister had two Xenopus albino frogs in an aquarium, and during one night one of the frogs killed nearly all the fish, and also the other frog.

  13. Chris Martin says:

    For help with the plural of Xenopus: http://youtu.be/wFyY2mK8pxk

  14. ‘Xenopus’, like ‘octopus’, is based on Greek, not Latin.

    • Xenopodes it is, then. http://youtu.be/wFyY2mK8pxk

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        That would have been more convincing if she hadn’t characterized the creature as having “eight legs”.

    • Kiscica says:

      Right, it means “strange foot” – they have claws, after a fashion, which is a bit strange for a frog.

      That said, a Greekish plural like “xenopodes” seems as pedantic as “xenopi” is mistaken.  “Xenopuses” is perfectly reasonable and I can attest that most scientists just use a zero plural, saying e.g. “The xenopus are ready for your experiment.”  (Or just “The frogs.”) 

      I prefer “Xenopussies” myself, with a nod to their slightly cat-like nature.

    • chenille says:

      This is an annoying misnomer. They are derived from Greek, but for genera, the grammatical form is always Latin. The traditional plurals are -podes as a Latin third declension.

  15. seyo says:

    I have one, his (or her) name is, at times, Froggly, Ser Frogbert, Frogston Sinclair Lewis, or Frog. Also Frogster.

    Fun fact: my Xenopus’ breath smells like Xenopus food.

  16. RJ says:

    I hear Japanese people are xenophobic. You would think they’d like a frog as cute as that. ;)

  17. Rich Keller says:

    Evidently I misunderstood what Xenopus accessories meant, because I want to  know what  it would take to engineer some of these to have chromatophores that  appear as Louis Vuitton logos.

  18. bluest_one says:

     Xenopus thought it was ever so clever and cool at survival what with it’s evolutionary regenerative abilities and all that.

    Then it became useful.

    To Humans. :(

  19. angusm says:

    When I was about 13, my biology teacher managed to persuade a pair of Xenopus to breed (probably by the squeezing and mashing operation described above). Suddenly, he had tankfuls of Xenopus toadlets that he didn’t know what to do with.

    He gave a pair to every kid who wanted them. I named mine Claudia and Claudius (because the other name for Xenopus is the African Clawed Frog). Claudius disappeared fairly early on, possibly eaten by Claudia, but Claudia lived on in a fishtank on top of the fridge in my parents’ house, hand fed on an intermittent diet of earthworms by my father. For the next twenty-five years.

    As @Teknad said, these little guys live for a long, long time …

  20. origilla says:

    I love my Xenopus, Fireball. Bought him as a tadpole through the mail for my son’s fifth birthday. Nine years later still going strong. Guests love watching him eat frozen bloodworm cubes in a very Cookie Monster sort of way.

  21. novium says:

    These are also the critters that wreaked havoc on that lily pond in Golden Gate Park. First, they ate everything in the pond, including the turtles. Then they proved to be very hardy and impossible to remove/exterminate. The pond is also infested with some invasive weed, but they can’t kill the weed unless they fix the pond, and they can’t fix the pond because they’re afraid if they drain it, the frogs will spread.

    The original headlines were kind of memorable: FLESH EATING FROGS TERRORIZE GOLDEN GATE PARK and the like.

    • angusm says:

      There’s also a colony of X. laevis in South Wales: http://www.botany.uwc.ac.za/presents/focuson/frogs/feral.htm

      Hardy little beasts …

  22. Preston Sturges says:

    I believe they used to clone genes in bacteria to create a lot of mRNA, then inject the RNA into the egg with some radioactive amino acids, which would create the protein of interest (radioactive) so you could study things like how it had been processed post-translation. It’s not always obvious from the gene where it starts and ends or what the protein’s molecular weight or solubility would be.  But if you have your protein of interest labeled with isotope, you can discern things like that even without purifying it. 

  23. paux says:

    When I clicked “xenopus accessories”, I was expecting little xenopus hats and monocles.  I have been left utterly disappointed!

  24. powerofslack says:

    Shout out to Xenbase http://www.xenbase.org/common/ .  If your interest in Xenopus becomes more than passing this is where you want to start!

  25. Calimecita says:

    More Xenopus facts :-)
    - As fully aquatic species, they have a series of unique characteristics: no eardrums, no eyelids, and the adults retain the lateral line system (“distance touch”) that usually disappears during metamorphosis in other frogs.

    - They also lack a tongue, so they use their throat as a pump to suck food in.

    - They have horny claws in some of their digits (thus their “strange foot” name)

    They are indeed alien-y cute, but I don’t like the albino individuals quite so much.

  26. Culturedropout says:

    Dammit.  I came here expecting alien female genitalia.

  27. Malcolm Farmer says:

    The xenopus is a TOAD.  In this house we do not use the “F” word!

  28. jb88 says:

    God, yeah, that’s really interesting that researchers are using these living breathing creatures that are fully capable of experiencing terror, pain and death to further pregnancy piss test science. “Apparently they like to have something to hide out in…”. No.shit.

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