Newly discovered species of frog bypasses the tadpole phase of development
University of Toronto scientists have recently discovered a species of frog that skips the tadpole phase of development but still requires a thyroid to grow into fully formed adults.
"We already knew that many frogs - mostly in tropical zones - bypass the tadpole stage and hatch from eggs as tiny versions of mature adults," says zoology professor Richard Elinson, who co-authored a paper with former doctoral student Elizabeth Callery. "But the question was 'How did they manage to do it?' Since a tadpole requires thyroid hormone to mature into an adult, was the hormone eliminated along with the tadpole phase? It had been assumed that this other species developed without a thyroid hormone but we've shown they still have a thyroid-dependent state."
Elinson calls this a classic case of evolutionary change in development. The theory is that this species, found in the tropics of Puerto Rico, evolved over millions of years to the point where it retained the hormone but lost its tadpole phase. In other words, he says, these frogs devised ways to evade dangerous living conditions in water containing predators - their mating occurs on land, fertilization happens in the body of the female and eggs are laid and hatched on land
The paper, titled Thyroid Hormone-Dependent Metamorphosis in a Direct Developing Frog, is featured in the March 14 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
U of T Public Affairs
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