Amphibians Information

Amphibians , such as frogs, salamanders, and caecilians, are ectothermic animals that metamorphose from a juvenile water-breathing form, either to an adult air-breathing form, or to a paedomorph that retains some juvenile characteristics. Mudpuppies, for example, retain juvenile gills in adulthood. The three modern orders of amphibians are Anura , Caudata , and Gymnophiona , and in total they number approximately 6,500 species. Many amphibians lay their eggs in water. Amphibians are superficially similar to reptiles, but reptiles are amniotes, along with mammals and birds. The study of amphibians is called batrachology.

Amphibians are ecological indicators, and in recent decades there has been a dramatic decline in amphibian populations around the globe. Many species are now threatened or extinct.

Amphibians evolved in the Devonian Period and were top predators in the Carboniferous and Permian Periods, but many lineages were wiped out during the Permian–Triassic extinction. One group, the metoposaurs, remained important predators during the Triassic, but as the world became drier during the Early Jurassic they died out, leaving a handful of relict temnospondyls like Koolasuchus and the modern orders of Lissamphibia.

Wikipedia, Amphibians, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphibians (as of Apr 7, 2011)

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