Discoglossid frogsDavid Cannatella
This family includes two living genera, Discoglossus and Alytes. Both are small frogs (Snout vent-length about 40-70 mm). The family is distributed in Europe and northwest Africa (Arnold et al., 1978).
Discoglossus (Painted Frogs) resemble true frogs of the genus Rana; they are somewhat smooth and shiny. The shape of the pupil is like an inverted teardrop. Painted frogs are usually found in and around water.
Midwife toads (Alytes) are stockier, more toadlike, and more terrestrial, being found in woodlands and rocky areas. The male of Alytes obstetricans carries the strings of eggs, adherent to his back and thighs, until they hatch into water. The tadpoles are ordinary pond-type tadpoles with median spiracle, beaks, and two upper and three lower rows of denticles.
Alytes muletensis was first described as a new genus, Baleaphryne, from Pleistocene fossil material. It was only later discovered that the species was still extant on the island of Mallorca, which is part of Spain (Hemmer and Alcover, 1984). The genus Baleaphryne was later synonymized into Alytes.
With the removal of Bombina and Barbourula from Discoglossidae, the fossil range of the family is unclear. See below under "Phylogenetic Relationships."
Discoglossidae is the node-based name for the ancestor of Alytes + Discoglossus, and its descendants. By this definition, some fossils currently referred to "Discoglossidae", such as †Eodiscoglossus and †Latonia, likely will be excluded when their phylogenetic relationships are understood. The synapomorphies of Discoglossidae include a V-shaped parahyoid bone (convergent with Pelodytes) and a narrow epipubic cartilage plate (Cannatella, 1985).
Almost all workers have placed Alytes, Discoglossus, Bombina, and Barbourula in the same taxon, although the dissimilarity of Alytes and Discoglossus, on one hand, and Bombina on the other has often been noted (e.g., Lanza et al., 1976). Synapomorphies of Discoglossanura (Ford and Cannatella, 1993) reject the monophyly of "Discoglossidae" as traditionally used. However, Hay et al. (1995) found Bombina orientalis and Discoglossus pictus to be closest relatives; this supports the traditional arrangement of the Discoglossidae.
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University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA
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Cannatella, David. 1995. Discoglossidae. Discoglossid frogs. Version 01 January 1995 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Discoglossidae/16973/1995.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/