|New Zealand primitive frogs
Temporal range: 200–0Ma Early Jurassic – Recent
|Hochstetter's Frog (Leiopelma hochstetteri)|
|Distribution of Leiopelmatidae (in black)|
The Leiopelmatidae, or New Zealand primitive frogs, are a family belonging to the suborder Archaeobatrachia. Their relatively primitive form indicates they have an ancient lineage. While some taxonomists have suggested combining the North American frogs of the genus Ascaphus in the Ascaphidae family with the New Zealand frogs of the genus Leiopelma in the Leiopelmatidae family, the current consensus is that these two groups constitute two separate families. The four extant species of Leiopelmatidae are only found in New Zealand.
Their defining characteristics are their extra vertebrae (bringing the total to 9) and the remains of the tail muscles (the tail itself is absent in adults, although it is present in the younger frogs, which need the extra skin surface until their lungs are fully developed). The family Ascaphidae (found only in North America), of the same suborder, shares these primitive characteristics, and hence the two have often been described as related, or even part of the same family.
Late jump recovery is unique in the Leiopelmatidae. When leiopelmatid species jump, they land in a "belly flop" fashion, repositioning their limbs for takeoff for the next jump only after hitting the ground with the ventral surface of their torsos. The appearance of early jump recovery in more advanced taxa is a key innovation in anuran evolution.
They are unusually small frogs, only 5 cm (2.0 in) in length. Most species lay their eggs in moist ground, typically under rocks or vegetation. After hatching, the tadpoles nest in the male's back, all without the need for standing or flowing water. However, Hochstetter's frog lays its eggs in shallow ponds and has free-living tadpoles, although they do not swim far from the place of hatching, or even feed, before metamorphosing into adult frogs. Lifespans may be long (more than 30 years) for such small organisms.
- Genus Leiopelma
Three extinct species are known by subfossil remains, also from New Zealand. They became extinct during the past 1,000 years.
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- Bell, Ben D.; et al. (2004). "The fate of a population of the endemic frog Leiopelma pakeka (Anura: Leiopelmatidae) translocated to restored habitat on[Maud Island, New Zealand". New Zealand Journal of Zoology 31 (2): 123–131. doi:10.1080/03014223.2004.9518366.
- "Holotype of Leiopelma markhami". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
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- D.G. Newman (1996). "Native frog (Leiopelma ssp.) recovery plan" (PDF). Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
|Wikispecies has information related to: Leiopelmatidae|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leiopelmatidae.|
- New Zealand Frog Conservation Biology - research on New Zealand frog biology