Palaeobatrachus

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Palaeobatrachus
Temporal range: Oligocene-Pleistocene
Fossilised frog.jpg
Palaeobatrachus gigas from Czech Republic
Scientific classification
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Palaeobatrachus

Tschudi, 1839
Species
  • P. diluvianus (Goldfuss, 1831) (type)
  • P. gigas Meyer, 1859
  • P. eurydices Villa et al. 2016
  • P. robustus Hossini & Rage, 2000
Synonyms

Pliobatrachus

Palaeobatrachus was a genus of primitive frogs from Europe that existed from the Oligocene to the middle Pleistocene period (Ionian Stage) (621-568ka). Although not closely related, it would have superficially resembled the present day African clawed toad Xenopus.

Description[edit]

Restoration
Cast of Palaeobatrachus fossil at University of Alberta

Palaeobatrachus had a relatively broad skull the shape of a Gothic arch, its body was relatively large, ranging from 8 to 10 centimetres (3.1 to 3.9 in) in length, and the female was usually larger than the male (sexual dimorphism).

Taxonomy[edit]

The Eocene genus Albionbatrachus was considered a synonym of Palaeobatrachus by Wuttke et al. (2012), but Roček et al. (2015) retained it as a separate taxon.[1][2][3]

The nominal species Palaeobatrachus occidentalis was described from material found in the Late Cretaceous-early Paleocene of western North America,[4] but Roček (2013) questioned its generic attribution.[5]

Habitat and paleoecology[edit]

Its skeletal remains are plentiful in freshwater sediments in western Bohemia, in Geiseltal (west Germany) and in east Germany, they are sometimes preserved very well indeed, with impressions of internal organs, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and epidermis, and with traces of coloring. Tadpoles and eggs have also been found.

These frogs lived permanently in water, their bag-shaped lungs, on the dorsal side of their body, enabled them to remain submerged for long periods. They inhabited through-drainage basins or swamps where brown coal deposits were formed. Like the African clawed toad, they probably lived on small crustaceans, insect larvae and small fish and themselves provided sustenance for many other animals.

The climatic change at the beginning of the Pliocene was a real catastrophe for Palaeobatrachus, which required warmth, and, being specialized, was unable to adapt itself to the altered conditions. Water-rich and warm environment that existed in the area of the Netherlands, acting as a refugium for Palaeobatrachus, made it possible for one species (P. eurydices) to survive as recently as the early Pleistocene.[6] In addition a species persisted in southern Russia until the mid Pleistocene.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wuttke M, P�rikryl T, Ratnikov VY, Dvo�rak Z, Rocek Z. 2012. Generic diversity and distributional dynamics of the Palaeobatrachidae (Amphibia: Anura). Palaeobio Palaeoenv 92:367–395.
  2. ^ Venczel M, Codrea V, F�arcas¸ C. 2013. A new palaeobatrachid frog from the early Oligocene of Suceag, Romania. J Syst Palaeontol 11:179–189.
  3. ^ Roček, Z., Boistel, R., Lenoir, N., Mazurier, A., Pierce, S.E., Rage, J.-C., Smirnov, S.V., Schwermann, A.H., Valentin, X., Venczel, M., Wuttke, M., and Zikmund, T. 2015. Frontoparietal bone in extinct Palaeobatrachidae (Anura): its variation and taxonomic value; the Anatomical Record, 298:1848-1863. https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.23203
  4. ^ Estes, R. and Sanchíz, B. 1982. New discoglossid and palaeobatrachid frogs from the Late Cretaceous of Wyoming and Montana, and a review of other frogs from the Lance and Hell Creek Formations. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 2:9-20.
  5. ^ Roček, Z. 2013. Mesozoic and Tertiary Anura of Laurasia. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 93:397-439. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12549-013-0131-y
  6. ^ Andrea Villa; Zbyněk Roček; Emanuel Tschopp; Lars W. Van Den Hoek Ostende; Massimo Delfino (2016). "Palaeobatrachus eurydices, sp. nov. (Amphibia, Anura), the last western European palaeobatrachid". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 36 (6): e1211664. doi:10.1080/02724634.2016.1211664.

Further reading[edit]

  • Benes, Josef. Prehistoric Animals and Plants. Pg. 178. Prague: Artia, 1979.