1979 Edition


  • Robert L. Carroll
Reference work entry

The Amphibia is a class of backboned animals classified in an intermediate position between fish and reptiles. Included are living frogs, salamanders, and limbless caecilians together with numerous extinct types. As a class, the amphibians are terrestrial as adults; but most living species are dependent on the water for reproduction. The amphibian egg, like that of fish, lacks the amniotic and allantoic membranes which in reptiles and birds protect the embryo and contain blood vessels for the transport of nutrients, respiratory gases, and metabolic wastes. Without these membranes, the eggs of amphibians must be small (<10 mm in diameter) to provide a large surface-to-volume ratio for the passive diffusion of these substances. The eggs are typically deposited in the water, where the hatchlings depend on the continued support of the fluid medium. Living amphibians typically have a distinct larval stage which feeds on small particles suspended in the water and respires with external...

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© Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. 1979

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  • Robert L. Carroll

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