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Since the 1980s, amphibian species have experienced a sharp decline in their numbers. Some estimates suggest that 400 or more amphibian species have gone extinct or near extinct since the die-offs began. Scientists eventually pinpointed the major cause of the devastation: chytridiomycosis, a disease brought on by an infection by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd.
One Bd-resistant species is the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). About a decade ago scientists suspected that this particular species may have served as a carrier, and facilitated the spread of chytridiomycosis, when they found Bd in a museum specimen dating back to 1934.
[A] new analysis now links the spread of the fungus in the U.S. with the spread of X. laevis, which initially began in the early 1900s. Doctors discovered that the African clawed frog could also be used as a pregnancy test, further increasing the number of frogs imported.
The pregnancy test worked by injecting a woman’s urine under the skin of a female frog. If the woman was actually pregnant, her hormones would stimulate ovulation in the frog.
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