Evolutionary Biology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 390–411

Heterochrony in Growth and Development in Anurans from the Chaco of South America

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11692-011-9128-5

Cite this article as:
Fabrezi, M. Evol Biol (2011) 38: 390. doi:10.1007/s11692-011-9128-5


Heterochrony refers to those permutations in timing of differentiation events, and those changes in rates of growth and development through which morphological changes and novelties originate during phyletic evolution. This research analyzes morphological variation during the ontogeny of 18 different anuran species that inhabit semi-arid environments of the Chaco in South America. I use field data, collection samples, and anatomical methods to compare larval growth, and sequences of ontogenetic events. Most species present a similar pattern of larval development, with a size at metamorphosis related to the duration of larval period, and disappearance and transformations of larval features that occur in a short period between forelimb emergence and tail loss. Among these 18 species, Pseudisparadoxa has giant tadpole and long larval development that are the results of deviations of rates of growth. In this species events of differentiation that usually occur at postmetamorphic stages have an offset when tail is still present. Tadpoles of Lepidobatrachus spp. reach large sizes at metamorphosis by accelerate developmental rates and exhibit an early onset of metamorphic features. The uniqueness of the ontogeny of Lepidobatrachus indicates that evolution of anuran larval development may occasionally involve mid-metamorphic morphologies conserving a free feeding tadpole and reduction of the morphological-ecological differences between tadpoles and adults.


Tadpoles Development Metamorphosis Growth Anurans Morphology 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Bio y Geociencias—Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasSaltaRepublic of Argentine