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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Feb 26;105(8):2951-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0707599105. Epub 2008 Feb 19.

A giant frog with South American affinities from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar.

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Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Anatomy Building, UCL, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.


Madagascar has a diverse but mainly endemic frog fauna, the biogeographic history of which has generated intense debate, fueled by recent molecular phylogenetic analyses and the near absence of a fossil record. Here, we describe a recently discovered Late Cretaceous anuran that differs strikingly in size and morphology from extant Malagasy taxa and is unrelated either to them or to the predicted occupants of the Madagascar-Seychelles-India landmass when it separated from Africa 160 million years ago (Mya). Instead, the previously undescribed anuran is attributed to the Ceratophryinae, a clade previously considered endemic to South America. The discovery offers a rare glimpse of the anuran assemblage that occupied Madagascar before the Tertiary radiation of mantellids and microhylids that now dominate the anuran fauna. In addition, the presence of a ceratophryine provides support for a controversial paleobiogeographical model that posits physical and biotic links among Madagascar, the Indian subcontinent, and South America that persisted well into the Late Cretaceous. It also suggests that the initial radiation of hyloid anurans began earlier than proposed by some recent estimates.

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