It turns out a frog can also be a princess.
A new study suggests female túngara frogs that live in forests aren't satisfied with the simple ways of their male counterparts, but rather crave the more refined and sophisticated company of city frogs.
And, if the research — published in Nature Ecology and Evolution — holds true, it's hard to blame them.
In analyzing the calls of male frogs in cities, small towns, and forests across Panama, biologists noted a distinct difference in those that called cities home.
They were louder, chattier and more complex. Their songs had more frills and drew from a much more diverse catalog of melodies. In Tinder-ese, their dating profiles told much more about themselves than what simple forest bumpkins were sharing.
More importantly, the recorded calls from city frogs lured in more females then their more subdued and simple country counterparts. Regardless of whether the female was from the city or the country, those garrulous city frogs got significantly more attention.
Simple only gets you so far
It's no surprise that male túngara frogs have to work extra hard to stand out in a crowd. They're about the size of an American quarter and are mostly confined to Central and South America. But researchers found that as they move into the city — or as cities develop around them — the competition gets even more fierce. When the researchers played back the calls to females, the females preferred more complex calls, even if the female herself was from the country. The simpler calls to find a mate didn't cut it.
Big cities require all of us to have louder voices. And frogs are no exception, ratcheting up their mating calls amid the hustle and bustle of city life.
In Panamanian forests, túngara frogs don't have to work quite so hard to find a mate. They often lounge in shallow water, issuing a simple invitation for ladies to join them. (Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock)
What's more, researchers added, city frogs have the distinct advantage of living among fewer predators, while their forest cousins have to be careful lest their calls attract a hungry bat.
"There is no constraint, they can go wild," study co-author Wouter Halfwerk of Amsterdam's Vrije University, notes in the study.
And who isn't flattered by a suitor willing to put it all on the line to find love?
As for those country ladies languishing among yokels, they likely won't have to wait long for a big-city suitor to come and sweep them off their feet.
By 2050, almost 70 percent of the world's human population will cluster in cities, according to a United Nations report released earlier this year. And so too will more frogs be joining the urban ranks.
And if those frogs are going to find their love connection, they're going to have to bring more than a country ditty to the table.