Fossil range: Triassic–present
White’s Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea)
Native distribution of frogs (in black)
List of Anuran families
Frogs are amphibians in the order Anura (meaning "tail-
less", from Greek an-, without + oura, tail), formerly re-
ferred to as Salientia (Latin saltare, to jump). The name
frog derives from Old English frogga, (compare Old Norse
frauki, German Frosch, older Dutch spelling kikvorsch),
cognate with Sanskrit plava (frog), probably deriving
from Proto-Indo-European praw = "to jump".
Most frogs are characterized by long hind legs, a
short body, webbed digits (fingers or toes), protruding
eyes and the absence of a tail. Most frogs have a semi-
aquatic lifestyle, but move easily on land by jumping or
climbing. They typically lay their eggs in puddles, ponds
or lakes, and their larvae, called tadpoles, have gills and
develop in water. Adult frogs follow a carnivorous diet,
mostly of arthropods, annelids and gastropods. Frogs are
most noticeable by their call, which can be widely heard
during the night or day, mainly in their mating season.
The distribution of frogs ranges from tropic to sub-
arctic regions, but most species are found in tropical
rainforests. Consisting of more than 5,000 species de-
scribed, they are among the most diverse groups of ver-
tebrates. However, populations of certain frog species
are declining significantly.
A distinction is often made between frogs and toads
on the basis of their appearance, caused by the conver-
gent adaptation among so-called toads to dry environ-
ments; however, this distinction has no taxonomic basis.
The only family exclusively given the common name
"toad" is Bufonidae, but many species from other famil-
ies are also called "toads," and the species within the
toad genus Atelopus are referred to as "harlequin frogs".
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