Comprehensive Description

Additional Photographs

Occidozyga sp; photo © 1995 David Cannatella.Rana Palustris; photo © David T. Roberts, Nature's Images, Inc.


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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Feet used to slow landings: true frogs

The back feet of some frogs provide a slower landing following a leap due to webbing that may give the frog some gliding ability.

  "Caught in mid-air by the camera, this leaping frog has webbed feet which it uses for swimming. Like the duck, the frog is pushed forward from behind: compare the powerful back legs and their webbed feet with the slender front legs and webless front feet. When landing after a leap through the air, the webbing may also serve as a parachute to slow the descent." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:181)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Foy, Sally; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 2402
Specimens with Sequences: 2154
Specimens with Barcodes: 1595
Species: 193
Species With Barcodes: 169
Public Records: 370
Public Species: 70
Public BINs: 99
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


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Barcode data

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True frog

The true frogs, family Ranidae, have the widest distribution of any frog family. They are abundant throughout most of the world, occurring on most continents except Antarctica. The true frogs are present in North America, northern South America, Europe, Asia, Madagascar, Africa, and from the East Indies to New Guinea; the species native to Australia—the Australian wood frog (Hylarana daemelii)—is restricted to the far north.

Typically, true frogs are smooth and moist-skinned, with large, powerful legs and extensively webbed feet. The true frogs vary greatly in size, ranging from small—such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica)—to the largest frog in the world, the goliath frog (Conraua goliath).

Many of the true frogs are aquatic or live close to water. Most species lay their eggs in the water and go through a tadpole stage. However, as with most families of frogs, there is large variation of habitat within the family. Those of the genus Tomopterna are burrowing frogs native to Africa and exhibit most of the characteristics common to burrowing frogs around the world. There are also arboreal species of true frogs, and the family includes some of the very few amphibians that can live in brackish water.[1]


The subdivisions of the Ranidae are still a matter of dispute, although many are coming to an agreement. Most authors believe the subfamily Petropedetinae is actually a distinct family called Petropedetidae.[2] The validity of the Cacosterninae is likewise disputed; they are usually merged in the Petropedetinae, but when the latter are considered a distinct family, the Cacosterninae are often awarded at least subspecific distinctness, too, and sometimes split off entirely. Still, there is general agreement today that the Mantellidae, which were formerly considered another ranid subfamily, form a distinct family. There is also a recent trend to split off the forked-tongued frogs as distinct family Dicroglossidae again.

In addition, the delimitation and validity of several genera is in need of more research (though much progress has been made in the last years). Namely, how the huge genus Rana is best split up requires more study.[3] While the splitting-off of several genera—like Pelophylax—is rather uncontroversial, the American bullfrogs formerly separated in Lithobates and groups such as Babina or Nidirana represent far more disputed cases.[4]

While too little of the vast diversity of true frogs has been subject to recent studies to say something definite, as of mid-2008, studies are going on, and several lineages are recognizable.[5]

Incertae sedis[edit]

A number of taxa are placed in Ranidae incertae sedis, that is, their taxonomic status is too uncertain to allow more specific placement. These include, among others, Rhacophorus depressus.[7]


The subfamilies included under Ranidae, now regularly treated as separate families, are:


Unidentified Nyctibatrachus from Phanasad Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra: a member of an ancient lineage of true frogs
Ishikawa's frog (Odorrana ishikawae), formerly placed in Rana which now contains a closely related branch
Bicolored frog (Clinotarsus curtipes), related to Meristogenys and Huia proper,
was also formerly in Rana, but is well distinct


  1. ^ Gordon et al. (1961)
  2. ^ Frost (2006)
  3. ^ Hillis & Wilcox (2005), Pauly et al. (2009)
  4. ^ Cai et al. (2007), Pauly et al. (2009)
  5. ^ Cai et al. (2007), Kotaki et al. (2008), Stuart (2008)
  6. ^ Amphibian Species of the World 5.5, an Online Reference. "Hylarana Tschudi, 1838". American Museum of Natural History. 
  7. ^ Frost, Darrel R. (2013). "Ranidae Rafinesque, 1814". Amphibian Species of the World 5.6, an Online Reference. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 


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