Skeletal Morphogenesis of the Vertebral Column of the Miniature Hylid Frog Acris Crepitans, with Comments on Anomalies


Although the vertebral columns of anurans have received much study in the last 150 years, few detailed descriptions exist of the skeletal morphogenesis of this anatomical unit. Herein, the ontogeny of the vertebral skeleton of the hylid frog Acris crepitans is described based on cleared and double-stained specimens, radiographs, and 3D reconstructions generated from synchrotron microCT scans. The adult axial formula is 1-7-1-1, and the vertebral centra are epichordal and procoelous. The neural arches are nonimbricate, and there is a medial articulation between the laminae of Presacrals I and II. Free ribs are absent. The sacral diapophyses are uniform in width or slightly expanded distally. The urostyle is slender, round in cross section, and about equal in length to the presacral region. Presacral vertebrae are the first to form, developing in a cephalic-to-caudal sequence. However, development and growth are decoupled and growth is fastest initially in the posterior presacrals and sacrum. In addition, there is a time lag between the formation of the presacral/sacral region and the postsacral region. More than 8.5% of the specimens examined have vertebral anomalies, and about 50% display small variants from the typical vertebral column morphology. However, these malformations do not seem to have been so severe as to have affected survival.


Biological Sciences


MDC Wildlife Collectors
National Science Foundation (U.S.)

Keywords and Phrases

Anura; Hylidae; Morphogenesis; Skeleton; Spine

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Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2008 John Wiley & Sons, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2009