Frogs Thrived After The Extinction Of Dinosaurs: Study

Posted: Jul 7 2017, 5:43pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Frogs Thrived After the Extinction of Dinosaurs: Study
Tree frogs, such as this Boophis marojezensis from Madagascar, evolved after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Credit: Brian Freiermuth

Study offers new insight into the evolutionary history of frogs

Scientists have come up with a new timeline for the evolution of frogs.

According to a new study from an international team of researchers, the huge diversity of modern-day frogs is the result of a 66 million-year old mass extinction event. The mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs set the stage for the rise of a totally different type of creature, the frogs. Today, frog comprises nearly 90% of all amphibian species.

New study shows that most of the frogs we see today evolved immediately after the asteroid or comet impact that killed off nearly all dinosaurs. The event also marked the end of the Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Paleogene era, suggesting a much more ancient origin for many key groups of modern-day frogs. Study also says that almost 88 percent of living frog species have come from just three lineages that survived the mass extinction.

“Frogs have been around for well over 200 million years, but this study shows it wasn't until the extinction of the dinosaurs that we had this burst of frog diversity that resulted in the vast majority of frogs we see today," said study co-author David Blackburn from the Florida Museum of Natural History. "This finding was totally unexpected. Except for a small handful of species, all other North American frogs are 'post-dinosaur' colonists.”

Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction, also known as K-Pg extinction, caused the death of some three-quarters of the plants and animal species on Earth. Frogs usually inhabit swamps and forests. But since they can thrive in a habitat which is of small or limited extent, they exploited those new ecological opportunities and exploded as forests and tropical ecosystems recovered from extinction.

For the study, researchers analyzed 95 genes from 156 frog species. By combining the data with previous information about additional 145 species, researchers produced the most detailed and accurate family tree of frogs to date.

"Nobody had seen this result before," said co-author Peng Zhang from Sun from Yat-Sen University in China. "We redid the analysis using different parameter settings, but the result remained the same. I realized the signal was very strong in our data. What I saw could not be a false thing."

Though the extinction event paved the way for a wide variety of modern frogs, it led to the demise of many ancient frog species too. Researchers conclude that perhaps 10 groups of frogs survived the extinction, but only three of them (Hyloidea, Microhylidae, and Natatanura) flourished and diversified.

“Except for a small handful of species, all other North American frogs are 'post-dinosaur' colonists," said Blackburn. "If you could travel back to the time of T. rex in North America, there would be frogs, but the chorus you would hear at night would have been nothing like you'd hear today. They're not even the same families."

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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