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An Initial Estimate Toward Identifying and Numbering Amphibian Kinds within the Orders Caudata and Gymnophiona


by Tom Hennigan on January 23, 2013


Biosystematics is in great flux today because of the plethora of genetic research continually shedding light on organism relationships. Despite the large amount of data being published, the challenge is having enough knowledge about genetics to draw conclusions regarding the biological history of organisms and their taxonomy. Despite these uncertainties, an initial attempt to count and identify biblical kinds in amphibian orders Caudata and Gymnophiona were estimated using current information and several key assumptions and guidelines. They include focusing on monophyly based on morphological and genetic characters, maintaining taxonomic stability, relying on authors who demonstrate expertise in systematics, considering the usefulness and general acceptance of nomenclature, using hybridization data as evidence that organisms are of the same kind, identifying the cognitum, and using statistical baraminology as a tool to assess holistic continuity and discontinuity amongst and between organisms. With the above parameters, and current systematics data from extant amphibians, the initial conclusions suggest that Noah had 53 extant Caudate kinds and one extant Gymnophionan kind on the Ark.


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Table 1. A sampling of behavior and characters across families within Order Caudata.

Suborder: Salamandroidea Suborder: Cryptobranchoidea
Behavior/Characters Ambystomatidae Amphiumidae Salamandridae Dicamptodontidae Plethodontidae Proteidae Rhyacotritonidae Sirenidae Hynobiidae Cryptobranchidae
Current Number of Species 32 3 94 4 431 6 4 4 54 3
Interspecific Hybridization yes yes unknown yes yes unknown unknown unknown unknown yes
Fertilization internal internal internal internal internal internal internal internal external external
Neoteny varies/inducible obligate facultative facultative varies/inducible females obligate no neoteny obligate facultative obligate
Parental Care of Eggs female A. opacum females not reported females sometimes males males or females none females males males
Average Total Length [TL] (cm) 14 55 15 24 10 25 6 40 13 75
Diploid Number (2n) 28 28 22 or 24 28 26 or 28 38 26 46, 52, or 64 40, 56, 60 , or 62 60, 62, or 64
Respiratory Structures  
lungs present present reduced present ABSENT present reduced present Present except Onychodactylus present
ypsiloid present absent present present absent absent present absent Present except Onychodactylus present
larval gill slits 3 pairs 3 pairs 4 pairs 4 pairs 3 or 4 pairs 2 pairs 4 pairs 1 or 3 pairs 4 pairs 4 pairs
adult gills variable 1 pair gill slits variable variable variable present none external gills none absent
Skull Morphology  
lacrimal bone absent absent absent present absent absent present absent present absent
premaxillae separate fused single or separate separate paired or fused separate separate/paired separate/paired separate/paired separated/paired
septomaxillae present absent absent present present absent present absent present absent
naso-labial grooves absent absent absent absent present absent absent absent absent absent
operculum present absent present present present absent absent absent present or absent absent
symphesial cartilage absent absent absent absent absent absent absent absent absent present
pterygoid reduced reduced present present present in larvae present reduced small absent present
Trunk and Vertebrae  
limbs and toes present reduced present present present reduced present no hind limbs present present
scapula/caracoid bone of pectoral girdle fused reduced fused fused fused fused fused separate fused fused
ribs bicapitate bicapitate bicapitate bicapitate bicapitate bicapitate bicapitate bicapitate unicapitate unicapitate

Table 2. A sampling of Caecilian family traits and behavior.

All share the following traits: blunt, bullet shaped heads, cylindrical bodies, annulated rings (each associated with one vertebra), no external ear openings, reduced or absent tails, well ossified skulls, absent limbs and girdles, reduced eyes, reduced or absent left lungs, unique tentacles, unique dual jaw adductor mechanism, male copulatory organ (phallodeum), internal fertilization (AmphibiaWeb 2012; Pough et al. 2003; Tree of Life n.d.; Vitt and Caldwell 2009).

    New Family                
Description Caeciliidae Chikilidee Dermophiidae Herpelidae Ichthyophiidae Indotyphlidae Rhinatrematidae Scolecomorphidae Siphonopidae Typhlonectidae
Number of genera 2 1 4 2 3 7 2 2 7 5
Number of species 42 1 14 9 52 21 11 6 22 13
Average Total Length (cm) unknown 60-100 +/- unknown 50 33 32 22 25 36 contains smallest: 11 contain largest: avg. 45
stapes (ear bones) imperforate unknown present perforate present imperforate present none imperforate present
embryo development ovi or viviparous oviparous ovi or viviparous oviparous oviparous ovi or viviparous oviparous ovi or viviparous oviparous viviparous
annuli primary/some secondary primary secondary primary/some secondary secondary/tertiary primary secondary/tertiary primary primary/some secondary primary
dual jaw adductor mechanism 2 muscle bundles 2 muscle bundles 2 muscle bundles 2 muscle bundles 2 muscle bundles 2 muscle bundles *1 muscle bundle* 2 muscle bundles 2 muscle bundles 2 muscle bundles
dermal scales present present present present present absent numerous absent none none
aquatic or semiaquatic no no no no no no no no no YES
intrauterine feeding by fetus no unknown no no no depends on species no depends on species no YES
juveniles shed gills early no no no no no no no no no YES

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