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Frog Fun Facts
Part of the Frogs: A Chorus of Colors exhibition.
The researchers then used fossil records to translate genetic differences between frog lineages into dates at which they likely diverged from one another. When the analyses pointed to a simultaneous evolution of the three major frog clades — Hyloidea, Microhylidae and Natatanura — the researchers initially eyed the finding with skepticism, said Peng Zhang, a corresponding study author and professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Sun Yat-Sen University in China.
“Nobody had seen this result before,” he said. “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.”
When examined in the context of the evolution of other animals, however, the finding makes sense, Blackburn said.
“Looking at bird or mammal phylogenies, we can see a reflection of Earth’s history — its climatic and geologic events,” he said. “You’d expect these major events — mass extinction and the breakup of continents — would have impact on frog evolution and that divergences between major lineages would relate to those in some respect. We see that in this phylogeny.”
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