Parsley FrogsDavid Cannatella
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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.
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 Pelodytes †arevacus 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 Pelodytes †arevacus 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.
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.
University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA
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Page copyright © 1995 David Cannatella
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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/