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Introduction

This family includes only two genera, Barbourula and Bombina. Barbourula occurs in the Philippine Islands (Barbourula busuangensis) and Borneo (Barbourula kalimantanensis). The approximately eight species of Bombina are found in Europe, western Asia, China, Vietnam, and Korea.

Bombina are warty, aquatic toads, and tend to be gregarious. The vocal behavior of some Bombina is unusual in that the call is produced during inhalation rather than exhalation as in other frogs. They lay pigmented eggs in ponds. The tadpoles have beaks, two upper and three lower rows of denticles, and a median spiracle (typical Orton Type 3).

Species of Bombina have bright red or yellow mottling on the venter. The German word Unke means toad. Bombina exhibit an "unken reflex" when bothered. The animal will arch its back and limbs to expose the bright belly, and may turn over on its back. This acts as a warning to predators. Not surprisingly, the skin toxins of Bombina are distasteful.

Barbourula are not as brightly colored but have webbed fingers in addition to webbed toes. Tadpoles of Barbourula are unknown. Both genera have flattened bodies.

Fossil Bombina are known from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene; there are no fossils of Barbourula.

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