Remember yesterday’s movie of the toad eating in slow motion? Now watch this one. It’s still a toad eating a cricket, but this time it was filmed at two different temperatures. Keep two things in mind – first, the toad’s body temperature is the same as the air around it, and second, muscle works faster when it’s warm. That’s why it takes a lot longer for the toad to pull its tongue into its mouth and close its mouth at 17°C than at 24°C. But there’s no real difference in the time it takes to for the toad to fling its tongue out of its mouth. That’s because tongue extension is powered by elastic recoil. Slow muscle contractions pull elastic tissues inside the tongue tight while the toad’s mouth is still closed. When it opens, the tongue flies forward like an arrow from a bow. So whether it's hot or cold, the toad's always ready to go hunting.
Deban, S. M. and A. K. Lappin 2010. Thermal effects on the dynamics and motor control of ballistic prey capture in toads: maintaining high performance at low temperature. J. Exp. Biol. 214: 1333-1346.
Video by Stephen Deban.