Amphibian - Life Cycle

Life Cycle

Most amphibians go through metamorphosis, a process of significant morphological change after birth. In typical amphibian development, eggs are laid in water and larvae are adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. Frogs, toads and salamanders all hatch from the egg as larvae with external gills. Metamorphosis in amphibians is regulated by thyroxine concentration in the blood, which stimulates metamorphosis, and prolactin, which counteracts thyroxine's effect. Specific events are dependent on threshold values for different tissues. Because most embryonic development is outside the parental body, it is subject to many adaptations due to specific environmental circumstances. For this reason tadpoles can have horny ridges instead of teeth, whisker-like skin extensions or fins. They also make use of a sensory lateral line organ similar to that of fish. After metamorphosis, these organs become redundant and will be reabsorbed by controlled cell death, called apoptosis. The extent of adaptations to specific environmental circumstances among amphibians is remarkable, with many discoveries still being made.

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