Focal Review: The Origin(s) of Modern Amphibians

  title={Focal Review: The Origin(s) of Modern Amphibians},
  author={Jason S. Anderson},
  journal={Evolutionary Biology},
  • Jason S. Anderson
  • Published 12 November 2008
  • Biology, Environmental Science
  • Evolutionary Biology
The recent description of the stem batrachian Gerobatrachus has changed the terms of the ongoing debate on the origin of extant amphibians (Lissamphibia: frogs, salamanders, and the limbless caecilians). This important fossil, through a shared mosaic of unique derived salientian and urodele characters, links frogs and salamanders with an archaic group of fossil amphibians known as amphibamid temnospondyls. The present paper reviews the impact of this fossil on morphological and molecular… 

The origin of modern amphibians: a re-evaluation

A matrix based on data from all three hypotheses and analysed key taxa phylogenetically using both Bayesian inference and parsimony supported the temnospondyl hypothesis of lissamphibian origins.

A multilocus timescale for the origin of extant amphibians.

The lower permian dissorophoid «doleserpeton» (temnospondyli), and the evolution of modern amphibians

The origin and evolution of modern amphibians is still a subject of controversy. The amphibamid temnospondyl Doleserpeton has often been suggested as a close relative of modern amphibians, but the

A New Amphibamid (Temnospondyli: Dissorophoidea) from the Early Permian of Texas

A new genus and species of amphibamid, Rubeostratilia texensis, represented by a skull from the Early Permian of Texas, shows many similarities with a recent described species from Richards Spur, Oklahoma, Pasawioops mayi.

A Triassic stem-salamander from Kyrgyzstan and the origin of salamanders

A new specimen of Triassurus sixtelae is reported, a hitherto enigmatic tetrapod from the Middle/Late Triassic of Kyrgyzstan, which is identified as the geologically oldest stem-group salamander, shedding light not only on the early evolution of the salamanders body plan, but also on the origin of the group as a whole.

The origin(s) of extant amphibians: a review with emphasis on the “lepospondyl hypothesis”

It is proposed that the complex of characters called the salamander mode of autopodium development is (in its less extreme forms) plesiomorphic for limbed vertebrates, so the apparent presence of this mode of development in temnospondyls cannot support the TH or the PH.

The Origin(s) of Modern Amphibians: A Commentary

Anderson (2008) argues that the LH is mainly supported by loss char-acters, and that this is problematic ‘’given the relative easethat these losses can arise via paedomorphosis, which appears to evolve repeatedly’’, and emphasizes develop-ment characters such as digit development and skull ossi-fication order, which are known to be homoplastic.

The putative lissamphibian stem-group: phylogeny and evolution of the dissorophoid temnospondyls

  • R. Schoch
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Journal of Paleontology
  • 2018
An inclusive phylogenetic analysis of dissorophoids gives new insights into the large-scale topology of relationships, including a basal dichotomy between the large, heavily ossified Olsoniformes and the small salamander-like Amphibamiformes.

An updated paleontological timetree of lissamphibians, with comments on the anatomy of Jurassic crown-group salamanders (Urodela)

The conclusion that the fossil record of Lissamphibia is dense enough to provide reliable calibration constraints for molecular divergence dating is upheld and some of the divergence dates the authors infer from the tree are up to 15 Ma younger than previously published.

The Lower Permian Amphibamid Doleserpeton (Temnospondyli: Dissorophoidea), The Interrelationships of Amphibamids, and the Origin of Modern Amphibians

Doleserpeton adds to the strong evidence for a temnospondyl origin of batrachians, particularly for anurans, and the hypothesis proposing a lepospondylorigin of modern amphibians is questioned.



A stem batrachian from the Early Permian of Texas and the origin of frogs and salamanders

The discovery of an amphibamid temnospondyl from the Early Permian of Texas that bridges the gap between other Palaeozoic amphibians and the earliest known salientians and caudatans from the Mesozoic is reported.

Mitogenomic perspectives on the origin and phylogeny of living amphibians.

It is suggested that the temnospondyl-origin hypothesis for lissamphibians is more credible than other hypotheses, and under this timescale, the potential geographic origins of the main living amphibian groups are discussed.

Initial Diversification of Living Amphibians Predated the Breakup of Pangaea

A robust molecular phylogeny based on the nuclear RAG1 gene as well as results from a variety of alternative independent molecular clock calibrations suggest that the origin and early divergence of the three living amphibian orders dates back to the Palaeozoic or early Mesozoic, before the breakup of Pangaea, and soon after the divergence from lobe‐finned fishes.

Ontogenetic evidence for the Paleozoic ancestry of salamanders

Comparison of patterns of larval development in Paleozoic and modern amphibians provides a means to test previous phylogenies based primarily on adult characteristics and proves to be highly informative in the case of the origin of salamanders.

Dates, nodes and character conflict: Addressing the Lissamphibian origin problem

Tests of different crown topologies show that placement of amphibians within lepospondyls is not a significantly worse fit for the whole character set than a close temnospondyl‐lissamphibian relationship, and the latter phylogenetic hypothesis best captures the most coherent assembly of derived lissampshibian apomorphies.

The Palaeozoic Ancestry of Salamanders, Frogs and Caecilians

Recognition of a sister-group relationship between Permo-Carboniferous branchiosaurids and crown-group salamanders makes it possible to determine the sequence of changes in the anatomy and ways of life that occurred during the origin of urodeles, and to determine their time of divergence relative to that of frogs and caecilians.


A new taxonomy of living amphibians is proposed to correct the deficiencies of the old one, based on the largest phylogenetic analysis of living Amphibia so far accomplished, and many subsidiary taxa are demonstrated to be nonmonophyletic.

Global patterns of diversification in the history of modern amphibians

A phylogenetic timetree based on a multigene data set of 3.75 kb for 171 species reveals several episodes of accelerated amphibian diversification, which do not fit models of gradual lineage accumulation.


  • R. SchochN. Fröbisch
  • Geography, Environmental Science
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 2006
These specimens give new insight into patterns of metamorphosis (morphological transformation) in branchiosaurids that are believed to be correlated to a change of habitat, and clearly show that different life‐history pathways comparable to those of modern salamanders were already estabilshed in this Paleozoic clade.