Under Construction


Parsley Frogs

David Cannatella
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
taxon links extinct icon extinct icon extinct icon [down<--]Pelobatoidea Interpreting the tree
close box

This tree diagram shows the relationships between several groups of organisms.

The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.

example of a tree diagram

You can click on the root to travel down the Tree of Life all the way to the root of all Life, and you can click on the names of descendent subgroups to travel up the Tree of Life all the way to individual species.

For more information on ToL tree formatting, please see Interpreting the Tree or Classification. To learn more about phylogenetic trees, please visit our Phylogenetic Biology pages.

close box
Tree from Ford and Cannatella (1993)
Containing group: Pelobatoidea


Pelodytidae are the "Parsley Frogs." The name comes from Pelodytes punctatus, a species whose green coloration makes the frog look like it is garnished with parsley. There is one living genus, Pelodytes, with two species, in western Europe and the Caucasus mountains. Fossil taxa are also known, from the Eocene to Pleistocene.

Pelodytes punctatus of Europe is a small (4 cm), gracile and agile frog with prominent eyes. It is mostly nocturnal and terrestrial, but breeds in water, with males apparently calling from under water. The tadpoles have beaks, denticles, and a sinistral spiracle (Orton Type 4).

The group is recognized as a family mainly because of the fused astragalus and calcaneum, an unusual feature in frogs (also known in centrolenid frogs). Another distinctive feature is the presence of a parahyoid bone in the hyoid apparatus. Among frogs in the Pipanura this character is known only in rhinophrynids and palaeobatrachids.

Geographic Distribution

Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
distribution of the living members of the family Pelodytidae

The distribution of the living members of the family Pelodytidae is indicated in red.

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

The genus Pelodytes was considered a family distinct from Pelobatidae (sensu lato) because it has a fused astragalus and calcaneum, a derived feature seen elsewhere only in Centrolenidae (Lynch, 1973). Sanchíz (1978) reviewed the fossil forms of Pelodytidae. †Miopelodytes and the extinct Pelodytesarevacus have a fused astragalus and calcaneum, but †Propelodytes does not. Sanchíz (1978) tentatively retained †Propelodytes in Pelodytidae.

Pelodytes was defined by Ford and Cannatella (1993) to be the most recent ancestor of the living species P. punctatus and P. caucasicus, and all of its descendants. Sanchíz (1978) considered Pelodytesarevacus to be more closely related to P. punctatus than to P. caucasicus, and as such it is part of Pelodytes. As normally used, Pelodytidae includes the fossil forms, so Pelodytidae was defined as a stem-based name, for those taxa that are more closely related to the living Pelodytes than to either Pelobatidae or Megophryidae. The synapomorphy of Pelodytidae is the fusion of the astragalus and calcaneum. The status of †Propelodytes as a pelodytid is tenuous.

Other Names for Pelodytidae


Ford, L. S., and D. C. Cannatella. 1993. The major clades of frogs. Herp. Monogr. 7:94-117.

Lynch, J. D. 1973. The transition from archaic to advanced frogs. Pp. In J. L. Vial (Ed.), Evolutionary Biology of the Anurans: Contemporary Research on Major Problems. University of Missouri Press, Columbia.

Sanchiz, F. B. 1978. Nuevos restos fósiles de la familia Pelodytidae (Amphibia, Anura). Estudios Geol. 34:9-27.

Title Illustrations
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Scientific Name Pelodytes punctatus
Location north of France
Acknowledgements Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Image:Pelodytes_punctatus_with_scale.jpg
Source Collection Wikimedia Commons
Copyright © 2005 Teuteul
About This Page
If you are interested in authoring or co-authoring the page for this taxon, or some part of it (even a species), contact David Cannatella.

David Cannatella
University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to David Cannatella at

Page: Tree of Life Pelodytidae. Parsley Frogs. Authored by David Cannatella. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Cannatella, David. 1995. Pelodytidae. Parsley Frogs. Version 01 January 1995 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Pelodytidae/16980/1995.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

edit this page
close box

This page is a Tree of Life Branch Page.

Each ToL branch page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a branch of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a branch and a leaf of the Tree of Life is that each branch can be further subdivided into descendent branches, that is, subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

close box


Page Content

articles & notes



Explore Other Groups

random page

  go to the Tree of Life home page