The Palatibility of Tadpoles

In 1970, biologist Richard Wassersug conducted a study to determine what different kinds of tadpoles taste like. More specifically, whether some taste worse than others. He convinced 11 grad students to be his tadpole tasters.

The standardized tasting procedure included several steps. A tadpole was rinsed in fresh water. The taster placed the tadpole into his or her mouth and held it for 10-20 sec without biting into it. Then the taster bit into the tail, breaking the skin and chewed lightly for 10-20 sec. For the last 10-20 sec the taster bit firmly and fully into the body of the tadpole. The participants were directed not to swallow the tadpoles but to spit them out and to rinse their mouths out at least twice with fresh water before proceeding to the next tadpole.

The most distasteful tadpole was Bufo marinus, while the most palatable ones were Smilisca sordida and Colostethus nubicola.

This confirmed his hypothesis that the most visible tadpoles were the least palatable. Their bad taste deterred predators from eating them, whereas the better tasting tadpoles relied on concealment to avoid being eaten.

Thirty years later, Wassersug was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for this research.

More info: "On the Comparative Palatibility of Some Dry-Season Tadpoles from Costa Rica"

Richard Wassersug poses with a frog
image source: University of Chicago

     Posted By: Alex - Thu Sep 29, 2022
     Category: Food | Science | Experiments

The instant I saw the title I thought that he should get the Ig Noble. Glad to see that someone thought along the same lines.
Posted by KDP on 09/29/22 at 09:09 AM
Definitely has Ig Noble in biology written all over it.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 09/30/22 at 11:50 AM
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