A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered how modern frogs came to thrive. It seems that the asteroid collision which caused dinosaurs to disappear prepared all the necessary conditions for the evolution of the amphibian species. This extinction influenced the distribution of frogs all over Earth and their biological diversity.
Scientists couldn’t tell how frogs evolved
Frogs are a really diverse group of creatures, which make up almost 90 percent of all amphibians. They have always been the object of fascination for scientists, as they thought they might be the missing link in a series of evolutionary riddles.
So far, they didn’t manage to find out too much about how frogs evolved and how this species turned out so diverse from a genetic point of view. This happened mostly because there wasn’t enough biological data but, now, researchers managed to put up a new tree of life for this complex species.
They managed to put up a complete tree of life
They collected a total of 95 genes from 156 species of frogs, which they added to the already gathered information from 145 species, and managed to build the best documented tree depicting frog evolution. Then, they were able to find an explanation on how frogs evolved to their present-day form.
Three frog lineages which still exist today appeared and started evolving in the same period, namely right after the dinosaur extinction. This occurred at the end of Cretaceous and beginning of Paleogene, or 66 million years ago.
Researchers found this a bit surprising, since it was previously thought these frog species had started evolving much earlier. Frogs have existed for more than 200 million years. However, only after dinosaurs went extinct did they start evolving into the diverse and widespread species they are today.
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