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25 Maret 2015

Katak Ajaib Bisa Berganti Rupa dalam Waktu Tiga Menit

Rabu, 25 Maret 2015 |
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society Variasi tekstur kulit pada jenis Pristimantis mutabilis. Lihat perubahan rupa katak.

KOMPAS.com - Ilmuwan menemukan jenis katak baru yang mengagumkan yakni katak yang bisa berganti rupa dengan mengubah tekstur kulitnya. Hipotesis ilmuwan, kemampuan tersebut berguna untuk melindungi diri dari predator.

Katherin Krynak, mahasiswa doktoral di Case Western Reserve University, dan suaminya, Tim Krynak, manajer proyek Celveland Metroparks Natural Resources Division, pertama kali menjumpai katak itu pada tahun 2009 di Reserva Las Gralarias.

Saat pertama kali dijumpai, katak terlihat sebagai hewan "berkulit duri" sebab permukaannya dipenuhi struktur yang tajam serupa duri. Katherine sendiri menjuluki katak itu "punk rocker".

Hari berikutnya, ketika Katherine mengoleksi dan menaruh si katak di wadah plastik, kulit hewan itu berganti sehingga rupanya pun berubah. Katak menjadi mulus seperti permukaan plastik.

"Saya lalu menaruh katak kembali di gelas dan menambahkan lumut. Tiba-tiba 'duri' kembali, saya tak bisa memercayainya katak berganti tekstur kulit. Saya taruh lagi katak di permukaan yang halus dan kulitnya pun menjadi halus," jelas Katherine.

Selama tiga tahun berikutnya, tim biolog mempelajari spesies katak itu. Diberitakan, Senin (23/3/2015), para biolog mengungkap bahwa katak tersebut bisa berganti tekstur kulitnya dalam waktu kurang dari 3 menit.

Katherine dan Tim menyatakan bahwa katak tersebut merupakan jenis baru. Mereka menamainya Pristimatis mutabilis. Publikasi penemuan akan segera terbit di Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Beberapa ciri katak yang diteliti ilmuwan lain mendukung pernyataannya sebagai spesies baru, seperti gennya yang diriset Juan M. Guayasamin dari Universitas Teknologi Indoamerika di Ekuador dan keunikan lagu panggilannya yang diungkap Carl R. Hutter dari University of Kansas.

Yang mengejutkan, P. mutabilis ternyata tak sendiri. Kerabat dekatnya, Pritimatis sobetes ternyata juga punya kemampuan berganti rupa. Belum diketahui apakah spesies lain dari genus Prismatis juga punya kemampuan sama.

Ke depan, ilmuwan akan terus meneliti jenis katak tersebut. Mereka akan melihat perilaku, siklus hidup, dan karakter biologi lainnya, selain meneliti secara menyeluruh genus Prismatis.

Editor : Yunanto Wiji Utomo

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