Triadobatrachus

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Triadobatrachus
Temporal range: Early Triassic, 250Ma
Triadobatrachus BW.jpg
Life restoration
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Clade: Salientia
Family: Protobatrachidae
Genus: Triadobatrachus
Piveteau, 1936
Species: † T. massinoti
Binomial name
Triadobatrachus massinoti
Piveteau, 1936

Triadobatrachus ('triple-frog') is an extinct genus of frog-like amphibian, including only one known species, Triadobatrachus massinoti. It is the oldest frog known to science, and an excellent example of a transitional fossil. It lived during the Early Triassic about 250 million years ago, in what is now Madagascar.

Cast of the fossil
Artist's rendering of Triadobatrachus massinoti

Triadobatrachus was 10 centimetres (3.9 in) long, and still retained many primitive characteristics, such as possessing fourteen vertebrae, where modern frogs have only four to nine. Six of these vertebrae formed a short tail, which the animal retained as an adult. It probably swam by kicking its hind legs, although it could not jump, as most modern frogs can. Its skull resembled that of modern frogs, consisting of a latticework of thin bones separated by large openings.[1]

This creature, or a cousin, evolved eventually into modern frogs, the earliest example of which is Prosalirus, millions of years later in the Early Jurassic.[2]

It was first discovered in the 1930s, when Adrien Massinot, near the village of Betsieka in northern Madagascar, found an almost complete skeleton. The animal must have fossilized soon after its death, because all bones lay in their natural anatomical position. Only the anterior part of the skull and the ends of the limbs were missing. This fossil was initially described under the name Protobatrahcus massinoti by the French paleontologist Jean Piveteau in 1936.[3][4] Much more detailed description were published more recently.[5]

Although it was found in marine deposits, the general structure of Triadobatrachus shows that it may have lived for part of the time on land and breathed air. Its proximity to the mainland is further borne out by the remains of terrestrial plants found together with it.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 56. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  2. ^ Rocek, Z. (2000). "14. Mesozoic Amphibians". In Heatwole, H.; Carroll, R. L. Amphibian Biology. Paleontology: The Evolutionary History of Amphibians 4. Surrey Beatty & Sons. pp. 1295–1331. ISBN 0-949324-87-6. 
  3. ^ Piveteau, J. (1936). "Une forme ancestrale des amphibiens anoures dans le Trias inférieur de Madagascar". Comptes Rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l'Académie des Sciences 202: 1607–1608. 
  4. ^ Piveteau, J. (1936). "Origine et évolution morphologique des amphibiens anoures". Comptes Rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l'Académie des Sciences 203: 1084–1086. 
  5. ^ Rage, J-C; Roček, Z. (1989). "Redescription of Triadobatrachus massinoti (Piveteau, 1936) an anuran amphibian from the Early Triassic". Palaeontographica Abteilung A, Palaeozoologie-Stratigraphie 206: 1–16. 
  • Benes, Josef. Prehistoric Animals and Plants. Pg. 114. Prague: Artia, 1979.