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Locomotor, ecological and phylogenetic drivers of skeletal proportions in frogs

Leavey, A; Ruta, M; Richards, CT; Porro, LB


A Leavey

M Ruta

CT Richards

LB Porro


Frogs exhibit complex anatomical features of the pelvis, limbs and spine, long assumed to represent specialisations for jumping. Yet frogs employ a wide range of locomotor modes, with several taxa featuring primary locomotor modes other than jumping. Using a combination of techniques (CT imaging and 3D visualization, morphometrics, phylogenetic mapping), this study aims to determine the link between skeletal anatomy and locomotor style, habitat type and phylogenetic history, shedding new light on how functional demands impact morphology. Body and limb measurements for 164 taxa from all the recognised anuran families are extracted from digitally segmented CT scans of whole frog skeletons and analysed using various statistical techniques. We find that the expansion of the sacral diapophyses is the most important variable for predicting locomotor mode, which was more closely correlated with frog morphology than either habitat type or phylogenetic relationships. Predictive analyses suggest that skeletal morphology is a useful indicator of jumping but less so for other locomotor modes, suggesting that there is a wide range of anatomical solutions to performing locomotor styles such as swimming, burrowing or walking.

Correction available at


Leavey, A., Ruta, M., Richards, C., & Porro, L. (2023). Locomotor, ecological and phylogenetic drivers of skeletal proportions in frogs. Journal of Anatomy,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 2, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2024
Publicly Available Date Feb 14, 2024
Print ISSN 0021-8782
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords 3D visualization; anuran; morphometrics; predictive analysis; ratio analysis; JUMPING PERFORMANCE; ANURANS; MORPHOLOGY; EVOLUTION; PATTERNS; SIZE; SPECIALIZATIONS; ARTICULATION; KINEMATICS; ALLOMETRY


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