Extreme tadpoles: The morphology of the fossorial megophryid larva, Leptobrachella mjobergi
ABSTRACT The bizarre larvae of Leptobrachella mjobergi are fossorial and live in the gravel beds of small streams. These tadpoles are vermiform in body shape. Here we present details on their skeleton and musculature, particularly of the head. The entire cranium and its associated musculature are reconstructed in three dimensions from serial histological sections. The hyobranchial apparatus is highly reduced. The head of the L. mjobergi larva is more mobile than in other anuran species. This mobility can largely be ascribed to the exclusion of the notochord from the cranial base and an articulation of the foramen magnum floor with the atlas of the tadpole. The articulation is unique among anuran species, but design parallels can be drawn to salamanders and the articulation between atlas and axis in mammals. In L. mjobergi, the atlas forms an anterior dens that articulates with the basal plate in an accessory, third occipital articular face. The muscle arrangements deviate from the patterns found in other tadpoles: For instance, epaxial and ventral trunk muscles reach far forward onto the skull. The post-cranial skeleton of L. mjobergi is considerably longer than that of other anurans: it comprises a total of 35 vertebrae, including more than 20 post-sacral perichordal centra. Despite a number of features in cranial and axial morphology of L. mjobergi, which appear to be adaptations to its fossorial mode of life, the species clearly shares other features with its megophryid and pelobatid relatives.
SourceAvailable from: Evelyne OberhummerZootaxa 07/2014; 3835:59-79. DOI:10.11646/zootaxa.3835.1.3 · 1.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We present a comprehensive review of larval morphology in the Neotropical toad genus Melanophryniscus. The taxa studied included 23 species with representatives of recognized phenetic groups and different larval ecomorphological guilds: pond, stream, and phytotelm-dwelling tadpoles. Their external morphology variation is congruent with current phenetic arrangement based on adult features, but also reflects the habitat where larvae develop. Lotic tadpoles (i.e. M. tumifrons group and M. krauczuki) in general exhibit a more depressed body, a longer tail with lower fins, and larger oral discs than lentic forms (i.e. M. stelzneri group, M. moreirae, M. samartini, and M. langonei). Despite their peculiar, confined microhabitat, phytotelm larvae do not diverge markedly from non-arboreal species. The distinctive features of all species are the presence of a pineal end organ and the placement of the intestinal reversal point at the left of the abdomen in typical larval stages. The buccal cavity and musculoskeletal anatomy are quite conserved between species, yet some characteristics differ from those of other bufonids. The presence of one pair of subhyoid muscles is apparently an exclusive trait of Melanophryniscus among Bufonidae. © 2014 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2014, ●●, ●●–●●.Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 06/2014; 112(3). DOI:10.1111/bij.12296 · 2.54 Impact Factor
Herpetologica 06/2014; 70(2):184-197. DOI:10.1655/HERPETOLOGICA-D-13-00052 · 1.07 Impact Factor