Additional Dermal Ossifications in the Anuran Skull: Morphological Novelties or Archaic Elements?

Sergei V. Smirnov


Examination of the cranial morphology in Bombina orientalis (Anura: Discoglossidae) revealed the occurrence of additional dermal bones lying: a) between the nasals and frontoparietals, b) between frontoparietals, and c) on the tectum synoticum behind the frontoparietals. The presence of similar bones as well as extra ossifications lying in the midline in the rostral portion of skull was shown to be a rather common event among anurans. Based on the occurrence of bones with similar topology in crossopterygians and different stegocephalians, it was concluded that extra ossifications sporadically appearing in anurans are more likely to be ancient cranial elements than neomorphs. Additional dermal bones found in the anterior portion of the anuran skull are homologous to the postrostrals of crossopterygians; extra ossifications lying between the frontoparietals correspond to the bones with similar topology sporadically appearing in crossopterygians and stegocephalians; and extra bones situated behind the frontoparietals are homologous to the lateral extrascapulars (postparietals of stegocephalians) and the median extrascapular of crossopterygians. These extra bones were proposed to be inherited from the presumed common ancestor of all Gnathostomes and retained in anurans in the state of latent capacities. The sporadic appearance of these bones in anurans results from the phenotypical realization of these latent capacities.


skull; bones; anurans; stegocephalians; crossopterygians

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