Skeletal Morphology and Development of the Olfactory Region of Spea (Anura: Scaphiopodidae)


The nasal capsules of anurans are formed by an intricate set of sac-like cavities that house the olfactory organ and constitute the beginning of the respiratory system. In tadpoles, nasal capsules do not have a respiratory function, but each is composed of a single soft tissue cavity lined with olfactory epithelium. Our study has revealed that in Spea the nasal cartilages and septomaxillae are de novo adult structures that form dorsal to the larval skeleton of the ethmoid region. The only element of the adult nasal capsule that is partially derived from the larval skeleton is the solum nasi. Development of the nasal skeleton begins at about Gosner Stage 31, with chondrification of the septum nasi and lamina orbitonasalis. The alary cartilage and superior prenasal cartilage are the first of the anterior nasal cartilages to chondrify at Gosner Stage 37. By Gosner Stages 40/41, the ethmoid region is composed of the larval structures ventrally and the adult structures dorsally. By Stage 44, the larval structures have eroded. The adult nasal capsule is characterized by: (1) a septum nasi that projects ventrally beyond the plane of the nasal floor; (2) a paranasal commissure that forms the ventral margin of the fenestra nasolateralis; and (3) a large skeletal support for the eminentia olfactoria formed by the nasal floor and vomer. The timing of chondrification of the anterior nasal cartilages and the development of the postnasal wall, inferior prenasal cartilage, fenestra nasolateralis, and paranasal commissure are discussed and compared with those of other anuran species. This study also includes a discussion of the morphology of the skeletal support for the eminentia olfactoria, a structure best developed in distinctly ground-dwelling frogs such as spadefoot toads. Finally, we propose a more precise restriction of the terminology that is used to designate the posterior structures of the olfactory region of anurans.


Biological Sciences

Keywords and Phrases

Anura; Morphology; Olfactory Region; Scaphiopodidae; Spea; Skeletal Development

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0021-8782; 1469-7580

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2006 John Wiley & Sons, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2007