Invasive cane toads too deadly even for Australia turn to cannibalism

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Invasive cannibalistic cane toad tadpoles in Australia eat so many of their younger hatchlings that they’ve become locked into an accelerating evolutionary arms race.

The cane toad (Rhinella marina) hatchlings, born by the thousands in small pools Down Under, have no natural predators in Australia, but they do have to contend with older cane toad tadpoles who feast on the defenseless amphibian younglings. This is causing the hatchlings to develop at a breakneck pace into tadpoles themselves, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, causing the tadpoles to in turn become even more aggressive cannibals.

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