BATRACHIA. The arguments adduced by T.H. Huxley, in his article on this subject in the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, for applying the name Amphibia to those lung-breathing, pentadactyle vertebrates which had been first severed from the Linnaean Amphibia by Alexandre Brongniart, under the name of Batrachia, have not met with universal acceptance. Although much used in text-books and anatomical works in Great Britain and in Germany, the former name has been discarded in favour of the latter by the principal authors on systematic herpetology, such as W. Peters, A. Günther and E.D. Cope, and their lead is followed in the present article. Bearing in mind that Linnaeus, in his use of the name Amphibia, was not alluding to the gill-breathing and air-breathing periods through which most frogs and newts pass in the course of their existence, but only wished to convey the fact that many of the constituents of the group resort to both land and water (e.g. crocodiles), it seems hard to admit that the term may be thus diverted from its original signification, especially when such a change results in discarding the name expressly proposed by Brongniart to denote the association which has ever since been universally adopted either as an order, a sub-class or a class. Many authors who have devoted special attention to questions of nomenclature therefore think Reptilia and Batrachia the correct names of the two great classes into which the Linnaean Amphibia have been divided, and consider that the latter term should be reserved for the use of those who, like that great authority, the late Professor Peters, down to the time of his death in 1883, would persist in regarding reptiles and batrachians as mere sub-classes (1). However extraordinary it may appear, especially to those who bring the living forms only into focus, that opposition should still be made to Huxley's primary division of the vertebrates other than mammals into Sauropsida (birds and reptiles) and Ichthyopsida (batrachians and fishes), it is certain that recent discoveries in palaeontology have reduced the gap between batrachians and reptiles to such a minimum as to cause the greatest embarrassment in the attempt to draw a satisfactory line of separation between the two; on the other hand the hiatus between fishes and batrachians remains as wide as it was at the time Huxley's article Amphibia (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th ed.) was written.
The chief character which distinguishes the Batrachians from the reptiles, leaving aside the metamorphoses, lies in the arrangement of the bones of the palate, where a large parasphenoid extends forwards as far or nearly as far as the vomers and widely separates the pterygoids. The bones which bear the two occipital condyles have given rise to much discussion, and the definition given by Huxley in the previous edition - "two occipital condyles, the basi-occipital region of the skull either very incompletely or not at all ossified" - requires revision. Some authors have held that the bone on which the occipital condyles have been found most developed in some labyrinthodonts  represents a large basi-occipital bearing two knobs for the articulation with the first vertebra, whilst the skull of the batrachians of the present day has lost the basi-occipital, and the condyles are furnished by the exoccipitals. On the other hand, some reptiles have the occipital condyle divided into two and produced either by the basi-occipital or by the exoccipitals. But the recent find of a well preserved skull of a labyrinthodont (Capitosaurus stantonensis) from the Trias of Staffordshire has enabled A.S. Woodward  to show that, in that form at any rate, the condyles are really exoccipital, although they are separated by a narrow basi-occipital. It is therefore very probable that the authors quoted in  were mistaken in their identification of the elements at the base of the foramen magnum. The fact remains, however, that some if not all of the stegocephalous batrachians have an ossified basi-occipital.
As a result of his researches on the anomodont reptiles and the Stegocephalia , as the extinct order that includes the well known labyrinthodonts is now called, we have had the proposal by H.G. Seeley  to place the latter with the reptiles instead of with the batrachians, and H. Gadow, in his most recent classification , places some of them among the reptiles, others being left with the batrachians; whilst H. Credner, basing his views on the discovery by him of various annectent forms between the Stegocephalia and the Rhynchocephalian reptiles, has proposed a class, Eotetrapoda, to include these forms, ancestors of the batrachians proper on the one hand, of the reptiles proper on the other. Yet, that the Stegocephalia, notwithstanding their great affinity to the reptiles, ought to be included in the batrachians as commonly understood, seems sufficiently obvious from the mere fact of their passing through a branchiate condition, i.e. undergoing metamorphosis . The outcome of our present knowledge points to the Stegocephalia, probably themselves derived from the Crossopterygian fishes , having yielded on the one hand the true batrachians (retrogressive series), with which they are to a certain extent connected through the Caudata and the Apoda, on the other hand the reptiles (progressive series), through the Rhynchocephalians and the Anomodonts, the latter being believed, on very suggestive evidence, to lead to the mammals .
Fig. 1. - Upper view of Archegosaurus Decheni.
(Outlines after Gredner.)
The division of the class Amphibia or Batrachia into four orders, as carried out by Huxley, is maintained, with, however, a change of names: Stegocephalia, for the assemblage of minor groups that cluster round the Labyrinthodonta of R. Owen, which name is restricted to the forms for which it was originally intended; Peromela, Urodela, Anura, are changed to Apoda, Caudata, Ecaudata, for the reason that (unless obviously misleading, which is not the case in the present instance) the first proposed name should supersede all others for higher groups as well as for genera and species, and the latter set have the benefit of the law of priority. In the first subdivision of the batrachians into two families by C. Duméril in 1806 (Zool. Anal. pp. 90-94) these are termed "Anoures" and "Urodeles" in French, Ecaudati and Caudati in Latin. When Duméril's pupil, M. Oppel, in 1811 (Ordn. Rept. p. 72), added the Caecilians, he named the three groups Apoda, Ecaudata and Caudata. The Latin form being the only one entitled to recognition in zoological nomenclature, it follows that the last-mentioned names should be adopted for the three orders into which recent batrachians are divided.
I. Stegocephalia (
). - Tailed, lacertiform or serpentiform batrachians, with the temporal region of the skull roofed over by postorbital, squamosal, and supratemporal plates similar to the same bones in Crossopterygian fishes, and likewise with paired dermal bones (occipitals and post-temporals) behind the parietals and supratemporals. A parietal foramen; scales or bony scutes frequently present, especially on the ventral region, which is further protected by three large bony plates - interclavicle and clavicles, the latter in addition to cleithra.
Extinct, ranging from the Upper Devonian to the Trias. Our knowledge of Devonian forms is still extremely meagre, the only certain proof of the existence of
pentadactyle vertebrates at that period resting on the footprints discovered in Pennsylvania and described by O.C. Marsh (
) as Tinopus antiquus. Sundry remains from Belgium, as to the identification of which doubts are still entertained, have been regarded by M. Lohest (
) as evidence of these batrachians in the Devonian. Over 200 species are now distinguished, from the Carboniferous of Europe and North America, the Permian of Spitsbergen, Europe, North America and South Africa, and the Trias of Europe, America, South Africa, India and Australia. The forms of batrachians with which we are acquainted show the vertebral column to have been evolved in the course of time from a notochordal condition with segmented centra similar to that of early bony ganoid fishes (e.g. Caturus, Eurycormus), to biconcave centra, and finally to the socket-and-ball condition that prevails at the present day. However, owing to the evolution of the vertebral column in various directions, and to the inconstant state of things in certain annectent groups, it is not possible, it seems, to apply the vertebral characters to taxonomy with that rigidity which E.D. Cope and some other recent authors have attempted to enforce. This is particularly evident in the case of the Stegocephalians; and recent batrachians, tailed and tailless, show the mode of articulation of the vertebrae, whether amphicoelous, opisthocoelous or procoelous, to be of but secondary systematic importance in dealing with these lowly vertebrates. The following division of the Stegocephalians into five sub-orders is therefore open to serious criticism; but it seems on the whole the most natural to adopt in the light of our present knowledge.
A. Rhachitomi, (figs. 1, 2), in which the spinal cord rests on the notochord, which persists uninterrupted and is surrounded by three bony elements in addition
to the neural arch: a so-called pleurocentrum on each side, which appears to represent the centrum proper of reptiles and mammals, and an intercentrum or hypocentrum
below, which may extend to the neural arch, and probably answers to the hypapophysis, as it is produced into chevrons in the caudal region. Mostly large forms, of
Carboniferous and Permian age, with a more or less complex infolding of the walls of the teeth. Families: Archegosauridae, Eryopidae, Trimerorhachidae,
Dissorhophidae. The last is remarkable for an extraordinary endo- and exo-skeletal carapace, Dissorhophus being described by Cope (
) as a "batrachian armadillo."
B. Embolomeri, with the centra and intercentra equally developed disks, of which there are thus two to each neural arch; these disks perforated in the middle for the passage of the notochord. This type may be directly derived from the preceding, with which it appears to be connected by the genus Diplospondylus. Fam.: Cricotidae, Permian.
Fig. 2. - A, Dorsal vertebrae. B, Caudal vertebra of Archegosaurus. na, Neural arch; ch, chorda; pl, pleurocentrum; ic,
(Outline after Jaekel.)
C. Labyrinthodonta, with simple biconcave vertebral disks, very slightly pierced by a remnant of the notochord and supporting the loosely articulated neural arch. This condition is derived from that of the Rhachitomi, as shown by the structure of the vertebral column in young specimens. Mostly large forms from the Trias (a few Permian), with true labyrinthic dentition. Families: Labyrinthodontidae, Anthracosauridae, Dendrerpetidae, Nyraniidae.
D. Microsauria, nearest the reptiles, with persistent notochord completely surrounded by constricted cylinders on which the neural arch rests. Teeth hollow, with simple or only slightly folded walls. Mostly of small size and abundant in the Carboniferous and Lower Permian. Families: Urocordylidae, Limnerpetidae, Hylonomidae (fig. 3), Microbrachidae, Dolichosomatidae, the latter serpentiform, apodal.
E. Branchiosauria, nearest to the true batrachians; with persistent non-constricted notochord, surrounded by barrel-shaped, bony cylinders formed by the neural
arch above and a pair of intercentra below, both these elements taking an equal share in the formation of a transverse process on each side for the support of the rib.
This plan of structure, apparently evolved out of the rhachitomous type by suppression of the pleurocentra and the downward extension of the neural arch, leads to that
characteristic of frogs in which, as development shows, the vertebra is formed wholly or for the greater part by the neural arch (
). Small forms from the Upper Carboniferous and Permian formations. A single family: Branchiosauridae.
Fig. 3. - A, Dorsal vertebra of Hylonomus (side view and front view). B, Dorsal vertebra of Branchiosaurus (side view and front view). n,
Neural canal; ch, chorda.
II. Apoda (
). - No limbs. Tail vestigial or absent. Frontal bones distinct from parietals; palatines fused with maxillaries. Male with an intromittent copulatory organ. Degraded, worm-like batrachians of still obscure affinities, inhabiting tropical Africa, south-eastern Asia and tropical America. Thirty-three species are known. No fossils have yet been discovered. It has been attempted of late to do away with this order altogether and to make the Caecilians merely a family of the Urodeles. This view has originated out of the very remarkable superficial resemblance between the Ichthyophis-larva and the Amphiuma. Cope (
) regarded the Apoda as the extremes of a line of degeneration from the Salamanders, with Amphiuma as one of the annectent forms. In the opinion of P. and F. Sarasin (
), whose great work on the development of Ichthyophis is one of the most important recent contributions to our knowledge of the batrachians, Amphiuma is a sort of neotenic Caecilian, a larval form become sexually mature while retaining the branchial respiration. If the absence of limbs and the reduction of the tail were the only characteristic of the group, there would be, of course, no objection to unite the Caecilians with the Urodeles; but, to say nothing of the scales, present in many genera of Apodals and absent in all Caudates, which have been shown by H. Credner to be identical in structure with those of Stegocephalians, the Caecilian skull presents features which are not shared by any of the tailed batrachians. G.M. Winslow (
), who has made a study of the chondrocranium of Ichthyophis, concludes that its condition could not have been derived from a Urodele form, but points to some more primitive ancestor. That this ancestor was nearly related to, if not one of, the Stegocephalians, future discovery will in all probability show.
III. Caudata (
). - Tailed batrachians, with the frontals distinct from the parietals and the palatines from the maxillary. Some of the forms breathe by gills throughout their existence, and were formerly regarded as establishing a passage from the fishes to the air-breathing batrachians. They are now considered as arrested larvae descended from the latter. One of the most startling discoveries of the decade 1890-1900 was the fact that a number of forms are devoid of both gills and lungs, and breathe merely by the skin and the buccal mucose membrane (
). Three blind cave-forms are known: one terrestrial - Typhlotriton, from North America, and two perennibranchiate - Proteus in Europe and Typhlomolge in North America.
This order contains about 150 species, referred to five families: Hylaeobatrachidae, Salamandridae, Amphiumidae, Proteidae, Sirenidae.
Fossil remains are few in the Upper Eocene and Miocene of Europe and the Upper Cretaceous of North America. The oldest Urodele known is Hylaeobatrachus Dollo
) from the Lower Wealden of Belgium. At present this order is confined to the northern hemisphere, with the exception of two Spelerpes from the Andes of Ecuador and Peru, and a Plethodon from Argentina.
IV. Ecaudata (
). - Frogs and toads. Four limbs and no tail. Radius confluent with ulna, and tibia with fibula; tarsus (astragalus and calcaneum) elongate, forming an additional segment in the hind limb. Caudal vertebrae fused into a urostyle or coccyx. Frontal bones confluent with parietals.
This order embraces about 1300 species, of which some 40 are fossil, divided into two sub-orders and sixteen families: -
A. Aglossa, - Eustachian tubes united into a single ostium pharyngeum; no tongue. Dactylethridae, Pipidae.
B. Phaneroglossa, - Eustachian tubes separated; tongue present. Discoglossidae, Pelobatidae, Hemiphractidae, Amphignathodontidae, Hylidae, Bufonidae, Dendrophryniscidae, Cystignathidae, Dyscophidae, Genyophrynidae, Engystomatidae, Ceratobatrachidae, Ranidae, Dendrobatidae.
The Phaneroglossa are divided into two groups; Arcifera and Firmisternia, representing two stages of evolution. The family characters are mainly derived
from the dilatation or non-dilatation of the sacral diapophyses, and the presence of teeth in one or both jaws, or their absence. The Discoglossidae are noteworthy
for the presence of short ribs to some of the vertebrae, and in some other points also they approach the tailed batrachians; they may be safely regarded as, on the whole,
the most generalized of known Ecaudata. Distinct ribs are present at an early age in the Aglossa, as discovered by W.G. Ridewood (
). The recent addition of a third genus of Aglossa, Hymenochirus (
) from tropical Africa, combining characters of Pipa and Xenopus, has removed every doubt as to the real affinity which connects these genera. Hymenochirus is further remarkable for the presence of only six distinct pieces in the vertebral column, which is thus the most abbreviated among all the vertebrata.
Frogs and toads occur wherever insect food is procurable, and their distribution is a world-wide one, with the exception of many islands. Thus New Caledonia, which has a rich and quite special lizard-fauna, has no batrachians of its own, although the Australian Hyla aurea has been introduced with success. New Zealand possesses only one species (Liopelma hochstetteri), which appears to be rare and restricted to the North Island. The forest regions of southern Asia, Africa and South America are particularly rich in species.
According to our present knowledge, the Ecaudata can be traced about as far back in time as the Caudata. An unmistakable batrachian of this order, referred by its
describer to Palaeobatrachus, a determination which is only provisional, has been discovered in the Kimmeridgian of the Sierra del Montsech, Catalonia (
), in a therefore somewhat older formation than the Wealden Caudata Hylaeobatrachus.
Apart from a few unsatisfactory remains from the Eocene of Wyoming, fossil tailless batrachians are otherwise only known from the Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene of
Europe and India. These forms differ very little from those that live at the present day in the same part of the world, and some of the genera (Discoglossus, Bufo,
Oxyglossus, Rana) are even identical. Palaeobatrachus (
), of which a number of species represented by skeletons of the perfect form and of the tadpole have been described from Miocene beds in Germany, Bohemia and France, seems to be referable to the Pelobatidae; this genus has been considered as possibly one of the Aglossa, but the absence of ribs in the larvae speaks against such an association.
Numerous additions have been made to our knowledge of the development and nursing habits, which are extremely varied, some forms dispensing with or hurrying through
the metamorphoses and hopping out of the egg in the perfect condition (
Skeleton. - In the earliest forms of this order, the Stegocephalia, we meet with considerable variety in the constitution of the vertebrae, and these
modifications have been used for their classification. All agree, however, in having each vertebra formed of at least two pieces, the suture between which persists
throughout life. In this they differ from the three orders which have living representatives. Even the inferior arches or chevrons of the tail of salamanders are
continuously ossified with the centra. As a matter of fact, these vertebrae have no centra proper, that part which should correspond with the centrum being formed, as a
study of the development has shown (H. Gadow,
), by the meeting and subsequent complete co-ossification of the two chief dorsal and ventral pairs of elements (tail-vertebrae of Caudata), or entirely by the pair of dorsal elements. In the Ecaudata, the vertebrae of the trunk are formed on two different plans. In some the notochord remains for a long time exposed along the ventral surface, and, owing to the absence of cartilaginous formation around it, disappears without ever becoming invested otherwise than by a thin elastic membrane; it can be easily stripped off below the vertebrae in larval specimens on the point of metamorphosing. This has been termed the epichordal type. In others, which represent the perichordal type, the greater share of the formation of the whole vertebra falls to the (paired) dorsal cartilage, but there is in addition a narrow ventral or hypochordal cartilage which fuses with the dorsal or becomes connected with it by calcified tissue; the notochord is thus completely surrounded by a thick sheath in tadpoles with imperfectly developed limbs. This mode of formation of both the arch and the greater part or whole of the so-called centrum from the same cartilage explains why there is never a neuro-central suture in these batrachians.
During segmentation of the dorsal cartilages mentioned above, which send out the transverse processes of diapophyses, there appears between each two centra an intervertebral cartilage, out of which the articulating condyle of the centrum is formed, and becomes attached either to the vertebra anterior (precoelous type) or posterior (opisthocoelous type) to it, if not remaining as an independent, intervertebral, ossified Sphere, as we sometimes find in specimens of Pelobatidae.
In the Caudata and Apoda, cartilage often persists between the vertebrae; this cartilage may become imperfectly separated into a cup-and-ball portion, the cup belonging to the posterior end of the vertebra. In such cases the distinction between amphicoelous and opisthocoelous vertebrae rests merely on a question of ossification, and has occasionally given rise to misunderstandings in the use of these terms.
Amphicoelous (bi-concave) vertebrae are found in the Apoda and in some of the Caudata; opisthocoelous (convexo-concave) vertebrae in the higher Caudata and in the lower Ecaudata; whilst the great majority of the Ecaudata have procoelous (concavo-convex) vertebrae.
All living batrachians, and some of the Stegocephalia, have transverse processes on the vertebrae that succeed the atlas (fig. 4), some of which, in the Caudata, are divided into a dorsal and a ventral portion. Ribs are present in the lower Ecaudata (Discoglossidae and larval Aglossa), but they are never connected with a sternum. It is in fact doubtful whether the so-called sternum of batrachians, in most cases a mere plate of cartilage, has been correctly identified as such. When limbs are present, one vertebra, rarely two (fig. 5) or three, are distinguished as sacral, giving attachment to the ilia. In the Ecaudata, the form of the transverse processes of the sacral vertebra varies very considerably, and has afforded important characters to the systematist. In accordance with the saltatorial habits of the members of this order, the vertebrae, which number from 40 to 60 in the Caudata, to upwards of 200 in the Apoda, have become reduced to 10 as the normal number, viz., eight praecaudal, one sacral and an elongate coccyx or urostyle, formed by coalescence of at least two vertebrae. In some genera this coccyx is fused with the ninth vertebra, and contributes to the sacrum, whilst in a few others the number of segments is still further reduced by the co-ossification of one or two vertebrae preceding that corresponding to the normal sacral and by the fusion of the two first vertebrae, the extreme of reduction being found in the genus Hymenochirus, the vertebral column of which is figured here (fig 6.)
Fig. 8. - The skull of Ichthyophis glutinosus A, Dorsal; B, ventral; C, lateral view. The letters have the same signification as below.
As stated above in the definition of the order, the Stegocephalia have retained most of the cranial bones which are to be found in the Crossopterygian fishes, and it
is worthy of note that the bones termed post-temporals may give attachment to a further bone so prolonged backwards as to suggest the probability of the skull being
connected with the shoulder-girdle, as in most teleostome fishes. This supposition is supported by a specimen from the Lower Permian of Autun, determined as Actinodon
frossardi, acquired in 1902 by the British Museum, which shows a bone, similar to the so-called "epiotic cornu" of the microsaurians, Ceraterpeton and
Scincosaurus, to have the relations of the supra-cleithrum of fishes, thus confirming a suggestion made by C.W. Andrews (
). As in fishes also, the sensory canal system must have been highly developed on the skulls of many labyrinthodonts, and the impressions left by these canals have been utilized by morphologists for homologizing the various elements of the cranial roof with those of Crossopterygians. The pineal foramen, in the parietal bones, is as constantly present as it is absent in the other orders. Although not strictly forming part of the skull, allusion should be made here to the ring of sclerotic plates which has been found in many of the Stegocephalia, and which is only found elsewhere in a few Crossopterygian fishes as well as in many reptiles and birds.
In the orders which are still represented at the present day, the bones of the skull are reduced in number and the "primordial skull," or chondrocranium (fig. 7), remains to a greater or less extent unossified, even in the adult. Huxley's figures of the skull of a caccilian (Ichthyophis glutinosus), fig. 8, of a perennibranchiate urodele (Necturus maculosus = Menobranchus lateralis), fig. 9, and of a frog (Rana esculenta), fig. 10, are here given for comparison.
The skull, in the Apoda, is remarkably solid and compact, and it possesses a postorbital or postfrontal bone (marked 1 in the figure) which does not exist in any of the other living batrachians. The squamosal bone is large and either in contact with the frontals and parietals or separated from them by a vacuity; the orbit is sometimes roofed over by bone. The presence, in some genera, of a second row of mandibular teeth seems to indicate the former existence of a splenial element, such as exists in Siren among the Caudata and apparently in the labyrinthodonts.
In the Caudata, the frontals remain likewise distinct from the parietals, whilst in the Ecaudata the two elements are fused into one, and in a few forms (Aglossa, some Pelobalidae) the paired condition of these bones has disappeared in the adult. Prefrontal bones are present in the Salamandridae and Amphiumidae, but absent (or fused with the nasals) in the other Caudata and in the Ecaudata. In most of the former the palatines fuse with the vomers, whilst they remain distinct, unless entirely lost, in the latter. The vomer is single, or absent, in the Aglossa. In the lower jaw of most of the Ecaudata the symphysial cartilages ossify separately from the dentary bones, forming the so-called mento-meckelian bones; but these symphysial bones, so distinct in the frog, are less so in the Hylidae and Bufonidae, almost indistinguishable in the Pelobatidae and Discoglossidae, whilst in the Aglossa they do not exist any more than in the other orders of batrachians.
No batrachian is known to possess an ossified azygous supra-occipital.
Fig. 9. - Lateral, dorsal and ventral views of the cranium of Necturus maculosus. In the dorsal view, the bones are removed from the left half of the skull, in the ventral view, the parasphenoid, palato-pterygoid, and vomers are given in outline. The letters have, for the most part, the same signification as before.
VII.p, Posterior division of the seventh nerve.
VII. Chorda tympani
V , V , V , First, second and third divisions of the trigeminal.
s.s.l, Stapedio-suspensorial ligament.
h.s.l, Hyo-suspensorial ligament.
m.h.l, Mandibulo-hyoid ligament.
a, Ascending process of the suspensorium.
p, Pterygo-palatine process.
o, Otic process.
Na, Posterior nares.
Mck, Meckel's cartilage.
Gl (fig. 10), The position of the glottis.
Bb , Bb , Basilbranchials.
Although there are four branchial arches in all the larval forms of the three orders, and throughout life in the Sirenidae, the perennibranchiate
Proteidae have only three (see fig. 11). In the adult Apoda these arches and the hyoid fuse into three transverse, curved or angular bones (see fig. 13), the two
posterior disconnected from the hyoid. In the Ecaudata, as shown by F. Gaupp (
) and by W.G. Ridewood (
), the whole hyobranchial apparatus forms a cartilaginous continuum, and during metamorphosis the branchialia disappear without a trace. The hyoid of the adult frog (fig. 12) consists of a plate of cartilage with two slender cornua, three processes on each side, and two long bony rods behind, termed the thyro-hyals, which embrace the larynx. In the Aglossa, which are remarkable for the large size and complexity of the larynx, the thyro-hyal bones are incorporated into the laryngeal apparatus, whilst the recently discovered Hymenochirus is further remarkable for the large size and ossification of the hyoidean cornua (ceratohyals), a feature which, though not uncommon among the salamanders, is unique among the Ecaudata (
Fig. 10 - Dorsal, ventral, lateral, and posterior views of the skull of Rana esculenta. The letters have the same signification throughout.
Ep, Epiotic process.
Pt , Pterygoid, anterior process.
Pt , Internal process.
Pt , Posterior or external process.
Ca, Columella auris.
Hy, Hyoidean cornu.
V, Foramen of exit of the trigeminal.
H, Of the optic.
X, Of the pneumogastric and glosso-pharyngeal nerves.
V . Foramen by which the orbito-nasal or first division of the fifth passes to the nasal cavity.
The pectoral girdle of the Stegocephalia is, of course, only known from the ossified elements, the identification of which has given rise to some diversity of opinion.
But C. Gegenbaur's (
) interpretation may be regarded as final. He has shown that, as in the Crossopterygian and Chondrostean ganoid fishes, there are two clavicular elements on each side; the lower corresponds to the clavicle of reptiles and higher vertebrates, whilst the upper corresponds to the clavicle of teleostean fishes, and has been named by him "cleithrum." As stated above, there is strong evidence in favour of the view that some forms at least possessed in addition a "supracleithrum," corresponding to the supra-clavicle of bony fishes. The element often termed "coracoid" in these fossils would be the scapula. The clavicles rest on a large discoidal, rhomboidal, or T-shaped median bone, which clearly corresponds to the interclavicle of reptiles.
Fig. 11. - Hyoid and branchial apparatus of Necturus maculosus.
Bb , First basibranchial.
Bb , Ossified second basibranchial.
Ep.b , Ep.b , Ep.b , First, second and third epibranchials.
The pectoral girdle of the living types of batrachians is distinguishable into a scapular, a coracoidal, and a praecoracoidal region. In most of the Caudata the scapular region alone ossifies, but in the Ecaudata the coracoid is bony and a clavicle is frequently developed over the praecoracoid cartilage. In these batrachians the pectoral arch falls into two distinct types - the arciferous, in which the precoracoid (+ clavicle) and coracoid are widely separated from each other distally and connected by an arched cartilage (the epicoracoid), the right usually overlapping the left; and the firmisternal, in which both precoracoid and coracoid nearly abut on the median line, and are only narrowly separated by the more or less fused epicoracoids. The former type is exemplified by the toads and the lower Ecaudata, whilst the latter is characteristic of the true frogs (Ranidae), although when quite young these batrachians present a condition similar to that which persists throughout life in their lower relatives. A cartilage in the median line in front of the precoracoids, sometimes supported by a bony style, is the so-called Omosternum; a large one behind the cora-coids, also sometimes provided with a bony style, has been called the sternum. But these names will probably have to be changed when the homologies of these parts are better understood.
The pelvic arch of some of the Stegocephalia contained a well ossified pubic element, whilst in all other batrachians only the ilium, or the ilium and the ischium are ossified. In the Ecaudata the ilium is greatly elongated and the pubis and ischium are flattened, discoidal, and closely applied to their fellows by their inner surfaces; the pelvic girdle looks like a pair of tongs.
The long bones of the limbs consist of an axis of cartilage; the extremities of the cartilages frequently undergo calcification and are thus converted into epiphyses.
In the Ecaudata the radius and ulna coalesce into one bone. The carpus, which remains cartilaginous in many of the Stegocephalia and Caudata, contains six to eight
elements when the manus is fully developed, whilst the number is reduced in those forms which have only two or three digits. Except in some of the Stegocephalia, there
are only four functional digits in the manus, but the Ecaudata have a more or less distinct rudiment of pollex; in the Caudata it seems to be the outer digit which has
been suppressed, as atavistic reappearance of a fifth digit takes place on the outer side of the manus, as it does on the pes in those forms in which the toes are reduced
to four. The usual number of phalanges is 2, 2, 3, 2 in the Stegocephalia and Caudata, 2, 2, 3, 3 in the Ecaudata. In the foot the digits usually number five, and the
phalanges 2, 2, 3, 3, 2 in the Caudata, 2, 2, 3, 4, 3 in the Stegocephalia and Ecaudata. There are occasionally intercalary ossifications between the two distal phalanges
). There are usually nine tarsal elements in the Caudata; this number is reduced in the Ecaudata, in which the two bones of the proximal row (sometimes coalesced) are much elongated and form an additional segment to the greatly lengthened hind-limb, a sort of crus secundarium. In the Ecaudata also, the tibia and fibula coalesce into one bone, and two or three small bones on the inner side of the tarsus form what has been regarded as a rudimentary digit or "prehallux."
Fig. 12. - Ventral view of the hyoid of Rana esculenta. a, Anterior; b, lateral; c, posterior processes; d, thyro-hyals.
Integument. - In all recent batrachians, the skin is naked, or if small scales are present, as in many of the Apoda, they are concealed in the skin. The extinct Stegocephalia, on the other hand, were mostly protected, on the ventral surface at least, by an armour of overlapping round, oval, or rhomboidal scales, often very similar to those of Crossopterygian or ganoid fishes, and likewise disposed in transverse oblique lines converging forwards on the middle line of the belly. Sometimes these scales assumed the importance of scutes and formed a carapace, as in the "batrachian armadillo" discovered by E.D. Cope. A few frogs have the skin of the back studded with stellate bony deposits (Phyllomedusa, Nototrema), whilst two genera are remarkable for possessing a bony dorsal shield, free from the vertebrae (Ceratorphrys) or ankylosed to them (Brachycephalus). None of the Stegocephalia appears to have been provided with claws, but some living batrachians (Onychodactylus, Xenopus, Hymenochirus) have the tips of some or all of the digits protected by a claw-like horny sheath.
The integument of tailed and tailless batrachians is remarkable for the great abundance of follicular glands, of which there may be two kinds, each having a special
secretion, which is always more or less acrid and irritating, and affords a means of defence against the attacks of many carnivorous animals. A great deal has been
published on the poisonous secretion of batrachians (
), which is utilized by the Indians of South America for poisoning their arrows. Some of the poison-secreting glands attain a greater complication of structure and are remarkable for their large size, such as the so-called "parotoid" glands on the back of the head in toads and salamanders.
Fig. 13. - Ventral view of the head and trunk of Ichthyophis glutinosus.
Br  Br , Br , Branchial arches.
Ivc, Inferior vena cava.
Rsvc, Lsvc, right and left superior cavae.
Ta, Truncus arteriosus.
Ao, Left aortic arch.
P.A. Right pulmonary artery. The pericardium (lightly shaded) extends as far as the bifurcation of the synangium.
In all larval forms, in the Caudata, and in a few of the Ecaudata (Xenopus, for instance), the epidermis becomes modified in relation with the termination of
sensory nerves, and gives rise to organs of the same nature as those of the lateral line of fishes. In addition to diffuse pigment (mostly in the epidermis), the skin
contains granular pigment stored up in cells, the chromatophores, restricted to the cutis, which are highly mobile and send out branches which, by contraction and
expansion, may rapidly alter the coloration, most batrachians being in this respect quite comparable to the famous chameleons. Besides white (guanine) cells, the pigment
includes black, brown, yellow and red. The green and blue, so frequent in frogs and newts, are merely subjective colours, due to interference. On the mechanism of the
change of colour, cf. W. Biedermann (
One of the interesting recent discoveries is that of the "hairy" frog (Trichobatrachus), in which the sides of the body and limbs are covered with long
villosities, the function of which is still unknown (
The nuptial horny asperities with which the males of many batrachians are provided, for the purpose of clinging to the females, will be noticed below, under the heading Pairing and Oviposition.
Dentition. - In the Microsauria and Branchiosauria among the Stegocephalia, as in the other orders, the hollow, conical or slightly curved teeth exhibit simple or only slightly folded walls. But in the Labyrinthodonta, grooves are more or less marked along the teeth and give rise to folds of the wall which, extending inwards and ramifying, produce the complicated structure, exhibited by transverse sections, whence these batrachians derive their name; a somewhat similar complexity of structure is known in some holoptychian (dendrodont) Crossopterygian fishes. In the remarkable salamander Autodax, the teeth in the jaws are compressed, sharp-edged, lancet shaped. The teeth are not implanted in sockets, but become ankylosed with the bones that bear them, and are replaced by others developed at their bases. Teeth are present in the jaws of all known Stegocephalia and Apoda and of nearly all Caudata, Siren alone presenting plates of horn upon the gingival surfaces of the premaxillae and of the dentary elements of the mandible. But they are nearly always absent in the lower jaw of the Ecaudata (exceptions in Hemiphractus, Amphignathodon, Amphodus, Ceratobatrachus, the male of Dimorphognathus), many of which (toads, for instance) are entirely edentulous.
There is great variety in the distribution of the teeth on the palate. They may occur simultaneously on the vomers, the palatines, the pterygoids and the parasphenoid
in some of the Stegocephalia (Dawsonia, Seeleya, Acanthostoma), on the vomers, palatines and parasphenoid in many salamandrids (Plethodontinae and
Desmognathinae), on the vomers, pterygoids and parasphenoid (some Pelobates), on the vomers and parasphenoid (Triprion, Amphodus), whilst in the
majority or other batrachians they are confined to the vomers and palatines or to the vomers alone (
As regards the alimentary organs, it will suffice to state, in this very brief sketch, that all batrachians being carnivorous in their perfect condition, the intestine is never very long and its convolutions are few and simple. But the larvae of the Ecaudata are mainly herbivorous and the digestive tract is accordingly extremely elongate and coiled up like the spring of a watch. The gullet is short, except in the Apoda. The tongue is rudimentary in the perennibranchiatea Caudata, well developed, and often protrusile, in the Salamandridae and most of the Ecaudata, totally absent in the Aglossa.
The organs of circulation cannot be dealt with here; the most important addition made to our knowledge in recent years being found in the contributions of F.
) and of G.B. Howes (
), dealing with the azygous (posterior) cardinal veins in salamanders and some of the Ecaudata. The heart is situated quite forward, in the gular or pectoral region, even in those tailed batrachians which have a serpentiform body, whilst in the Apoda (fig. 13) it is moved back to a distance which is comparable to that it occupies in most of the snakes.
The Respiratory Organs. - The larynx, which is rudimentary in most of the Caudata and in the Apoda, is highly developed in the Ecaudata, and becomes the
instrument of the powerful voice with which many of the frogs and toads are provided. The lungs are long simple tubes in some of the perennibranchiate Caudata; they
generally shorten or become cellular in the salamandrids, and attain their highest development in the Ecaudata, especially in such forms as the burrowing
Pelobates. Although the lungs are present in such forms as preserve the gills throughout life, it is highly remarkable that quite a number of abranchiate
salamanders, belonging mostly to the subfamilies Desmognathinae and Plethodontinae, are devoid of lungs and breathe entirely by the skin and by the
bucco-pharyngeal mucose membrane (
). Some of the Salamandrinae show the intermediate conditions which have led to the suppression of the trachea and lungs. In the Apoda, as in many serpentiform reptiles, one of the lungs, either the right or the left, is much less developed than the other, often very short.
Urino-genital Organs. - The genital glands, ovaries and testes, are attached to the dorsal wall of the body-cavity, in the immediate vicinity of the kidneys, with which the male glands are intimately connected. The oviducts are long, usually more or less convoluted tubes which open posteriorly into the cloaca, while their anterior aperture is situated far forward, sometimes close to the root of the lung; their walls secrete a gelatinous substance which invests the ova as they descend. In most male batrachians the testes are drained by transverse canals which open into a longitudinal duct, which also receives the canals of the kidneys, so that this common duct conveys both sperma and urine. In some of the discogloesid frogs, however, the seminal duct is quite independent of the kidney, which has its own canal, or true ureter. Many of the Ecaudata have remnants of oviducts, or Müllerian ducts, most developed in Bufo, which genus is also remarkable as possessing a problematic organ, Bidder's organ, situated between the testis and the adipose or fat-bodies that surmount it. This has been regarded by some anatomists as a rudimentary ovary. Female salamandrids are provided with a receptaculum seminis. Copulatory organs are absent, except in the Apoda, in which a portion of the cloaca can be everted and acts as a penis. The urinary bladder is always large.
The spermatozoa have received a great share of attention, on the part not only of anatomists and physiologists, but even of systematic workers (
). This is due to the great amount of difference in structure and size between these elements in the various genera, and also to the fact that otherwise closely allied species may differ very considerably in this respect. The failure to obtain hybrids between certain species of Rana has been attributed principally to these differences. The spermatozoa of Discoglossus are remarkable for their great size, measuring three millimetres in length.
Pairing and Oviposition - Batrachians may be divided into four categories under this head: - (1) no amplexation; (2) amplexation without internal fecundation; (3) amplexation with internal fecundation; (4) copulation proper. The first category embraces many aquatic newts, the second nearly all the Ecaudata, the third the rest of the Caudata, and the fourth the Apoda.
In the typical newts (Molge) of Europe, the males are adorned during the breeding season with bright colours and crests or other ornamental dermal appendages, and, resorting to the water, they engage in a lengthy courtship accompanied by lively evolutions around the females, near which they deposit their spermatozoa in bundles on a gelatinous mass, the spermatophore, probably secreted by the cloacal gland. This arrangement facilitates the internal fecundation of the female without copulation, the female absorbs the spermatozoa by squeezing them out of the spermatophore between the cloacal lips. Other newts, and many salamanders, whether terrestrial or aquatic, pair, the male embracing the female about the fore limbs or in the pelvic region, and the males of such forms are invariably devoid of ornamental secondary sexual characters; but in spite of this amplexation the same mode of fecundation by means of a spermatophore is resorted to, although it may happen that the contents of the spermatophore are absorbed direct from the cloaca of the male. The spermatozoa thus reach the eggs in the oviducts, where they may develop entirely, some of the salamanders being viviparous.
In all the tailless batrachians (with the exception of a single known viviparous toad), the male clings to the female round the breast, at the arm-pits, or round the waist, and awaits, often for hours or days, the deposition of the ova, which are immediately fecundated by several seminal emissions.
The fourth category is represented by the Apoda or Caecilians in which, as we have stated above, the male is provided with an intromittent organ. Some of these batrachians are viviparous.
In those species in which the embrace is of long duration the limbs of the male, usually the fore limbs (pleurodele newt, Ecaudata), rarely the hind limbs (a few American and European newts), according to the mode of amplexation, acquire a greater development, and are often armed with temporary horny excrescences which drop off after the pairing season. These asperities usually form brush-like patches on the inner side of one or more of the digits, but may extend over the inner surface of the limbs and on the breast and chin; the use of them on these parts is sufficiently obvious, but they are sometimes also present, without apparent function, on various parts of the foot, as in Discoglossus, Bombinator, and Pelodytes. In some species of the South American frogs of the genus Leptodactylus the breast and hands are armed with very large spines, which inflict deep wounds on the female held in embrace.
In most of the Caudata, the eggs are deposited singly in the axils of water plants or on leaves which the female folds over the egg with her hind limbs. The eggs are also deposited singly in some of the lower Ecaudata. In many of the Ecaudata, and in a few of the Caudata and Apoda, the eggs are laid in strings or bands which are twined round aquatic plants or carried by the parent; whilst in other Ecaudata they form large masses which either float on the surface of the water or sink to the bottom.
A few batrachians retain the ova within the oviducts until the young have undergone part or the whole of the metamorphosis. Viviparous parturition is known among the
Caudata (Salamandra, Spelerpes fuscus), and the Apoda (Dermophis thomensis, Typhlonectes compressicauda); also in a little toad (Pseudophryne
vivipara) recently discovered in German East Africa (
Development and Metamorphosis. - In a great number of batrachians, including most of the European species, the egg is small and the food-yolk is in insufficient quantity to form an external appendage of the embryo. But in a few European and North American species, and in a great many inhabitants of the tropics, the egg is large and a considerable portion of it persists for a long time as a yolk-sac. Although the segmentation is always complete, it is very irregular in these types, some of which make a distinct approach to the meroblastic egg.
With the exception of a number of forms in which the whole development takes place within the egg or in the body of the mother, batrachians undergo metamorphoses, the young passing through a free-swimming, gill-breathing period of considerable duration, during which their appearance, structure, and often their régime, are essentially different from those of the mature form. Even the fossil Stegocephalia underwent metamorphosis, as we know from various larval remains first described as Branchiosaurus. They are less marked or more gradual in the Apoda and Caudata than in Ecaudata, in which the stage known as tadpole is very unlike the frog or toad into which it rather suddenly passes (see Tadpole). In the Caudata, external gills (three on each side) persist until the close of the metamorphosis, whilst in the Apoda and Ecaudata they exist only during the earlier periods, being afterwards replaced by internal gills.
Many cases are known in which the young batrachian enters the world in the perfect condition, as in the black salamander of the Alps (Salamandra atra), the cave
salamander (Spelerpes fuscus), the caecinan Typhlonectes, and a number of frogs, such as Pipa, Rhinoderma, Hylodes, some Nototrema, Rana
opisthodon, etc. A fairly complete bibliographical index to these cases and the most remarkable instances of parental care in tailless batrachians will be found in
the interesting articles by Lilian V. Sampson (
), and by G. Brandes and W. Schoenichen (
). It will suffice to indicate here in a synoptic form, as was done by the present writer many years ago, when our knowledge of these wonders of batrachian life was far less advanced than it is now, the principal modes of protection which are resorted to: -
1. Protection by means of nests or nurseries.
A. In enclosures in the water. - Hylafaber.
B. In nests in holes near the water. - Rhacophorus, Leptodactylus.
C. In nests overhanging the water. - Rhacophorus, Chiromantis, Phyllpmedusa.
D. On trees or in moss away from the water. - Rana opisthodon, Hylodes, Hylelia platycephala.
E. In a gelatinous bag in the water. - Phrynixalus, Salamandrella.
2. Direct nursing by the parents.
A Tadpoles transported from one place to another. - Dendrebates, Phyllobates, Sooglossus.
B. Eggs protected by the parents who coil themselves round or "sit" on them. - Mantophryne, Desmognathus, Autodax, Plethodon, Cryptobranchus, Amphiuma, Ichthyophis, Hypogeophis, Siphonops.
C. Eggs carried by the parents.
(a) Round the legs, by the male. - Alytes.
(b) On the back, by the female.
(1) Exposed. - Hyla goeldii, H. evansii, Ceratohyla.
(2) In cell-like pouches. - Pipa.
(3) In a common pouch. - Nototrema, Amphignathodon.
(c) On the belly.
(1) Exposed, by the female. - Rhacophorus reticulatus.
(2) In a pouch (the produced vocal sac), by the male. - Rhinoderma.
(d) In the mouth, by the female. - Hylambates brevirostris.
Geographical Distribution. - If a division of the world according to its batrachian faunae were to be attempted, it would differ very considerably from that which would answer for the principal groups of reptiles, the lizards especially. We should have four great realms: - (1) Europe and Northern and Temperate Asia, Africa north of the Sahara (palaearctic region) and North and Central America (nearctic region); (2) Africa and South-Eastern Asia (Ethiopian and Indian region); (3) South America (neotropical region); and (4) Australia (Australian region). The first would be characterized by the Caudata, which are almost confined to it (although a few species penetrate into the Indian and neotropical regions), the Discoglossidae, mostly Europaeo-Asiatic, but one genus in California, and the numerous Pelobatidae; the second by the presence of Apoda, the prevalence of firmisternal Ecaudata and the absence of Hylidae; the third by the presence of Apoda, the prevalence of arciferous Ecaudata and the scarcity of Ranidae, the fourth by the prevalence of arciferous Ecaudata and the absence of Ranidae, as well as by the absence of either Caudata or Apoda. Madagascar might almost stand as a fifth division of the world, characterized by the total absence of Caudata, Apoda, and arciferous Ecaudata. But the close relation of its very rich frog-fauna to that of the Ethiopian and Indian regions speaks against attaching too great importance to these negative features. It may be noted here that no two parts of the world differ so considerably in their Ecaudata as do Madagascar and Australia, the former having only Firmisternia, the latter only Arcifera. Although there is much similarity between the Apoda of Africa and of South America, one genus being even common to both parts of the world, the frogs are extremely different, apart from the numerous representatives of the widely distributed genus Bufo. It may be said that, on the whole, the distribution of the batrachians agrees to some extent with that of fresh-water fishes, except for the much less marked affinity between South America and Africa, although even among the former we have the striking example of the distribution of the very natural group of the aglossal batrachians, represented by Pipa in South America and by Xenopus and Hymenochirus in Africa.
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(G. A. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)