Facts about Amphibians

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Amphibians are defined as those species of animals that live both on land and water. Such animals are typically ectothermic or cold blooded. Typical examples of amphibian animals include frogs and toads, reptiles, newts and salamanders, caecilians (that resemble earthworms) etc. Since these animals are adapted to live in water and land, their body cannot generate their own heat and therefore they rely on their surroundings for warmth. Amphibians can be found in every continent on earth except Antarctica. Rainforests, rivers, alpine basins, deserts are the varied habitats within which amphibians can be found.

Some of the interesting facts about amphibians are:

Amphibians were the first living species of vertebrate animals on earth. Found about 350 million years ago in the Devonian period, Icthyostega was the first instances of primitive amphibians that had 4 limbs and a skull similar to the lobe finned fish. These discoveries have been made from fossils.

They use the sun to keep their body warm and therefore need approximately 3- to 50 times less food as mammals and other warm blooded animals.

All amphibians have a similar central nervous system having a brain, spinal cord and nerves along the spinal cord distributed through the body.
Amphibians do not have any external hearing organ but do have an eardrum or sensory organ within the surface of the head that convey sounds in the form of vibrations. This organ is only sensitive to high frequency sounds like those of mating calls.

Amphibians that live in the tropical region do not have any particular mating season and breed throughout the year. In the temperate regions, longer days in the spring season serve as breeding season for the amphibians.

Frogs are born with a large mouth and sticky tongue that help them catch their prey. Frog meals are swallowed whole, similar to that of snakes as without teeth frogs are unable to chew. They have no defence mechanism which makes them vulnerable to predators.

Different amphibians have different and unique ways of movement. For example reptiles are known to crawl while frogs and toads hop around.
Amphibians grow up in two stages known as the larval and the adult stage.

Amphibian species of animals are said to be the first affected species by environmental changes which is why they remain in constant threat of extinction. Decline in amphibian population can negatively and indirectly impact human life as well.

Since the 1980s, an estimate has been made of 122 species of amphibians having gone extinct due to environmental changes and they continue to disappear at an alarming rate each year.

A common skin disease that affects most amphibians is the Apmhibian Chytrid disease. It affects the vital organs through which the animals drink and breathe. This fungus, believed to have originated in Africa and exacerbated by climate change, is responsible for the extinction of a wide range of amphibian species worldwide.

Activities of man such as deforestation, pollution, rising acidity levels etc. are said to affect the habitat of amphibians and thereby its breeding pools have been driven to extinction as well.

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