The earliest equatorial record of frogs from the Late Triassic of Arizona

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Royal Society Publishing


Crown-group frogs (Anura) originated over 200 Ma according to molecular phylogenetic analyses, though only a few fossils from high latitudes chronicle the first approximately 60 Myr of frog evolution and distribution. We report fossils that represent both the first Late Triassic and the earliest equatorial record of Salientia, the group that includes stem and crown-frogs. These small fossils consist of complete and partial ilia with anteriorly directed, elongate and distally hollow iliac blades. These features of these ilia, including the lack of a prominent dorsal protuberance and a shaft that is much longer than the acetabular region, suggest a closer affinity to crown-group Anura than to Early Triassic stem anurans Triadobatrachus from Madagascar and Czatkobatrachus from Poland, both high-latitude records. The new fossils demonstrate that crown anurans may have been present in the Late Triassic equatorial region of Pangea. Furthermore, the presence of Early Jurassic anurans in the same stratigraphic sequence (Prosalirus bitis from the Kayenta Formation) suggests that anurans survived the climatic aridification of this region in the early Mesozoic. These fossils highlight the importance of the targeted collection of microfossils and provide further evidence for the presence of crown-group representatives of terrestrial vertebrates prior to the end-Triassic extinction.



microfossils, frog, Chinle Formation, evolution, Norian, ilium