What Kinds of Amphibians are there?
Amphibians are a “class” of animal that has three “orders”:
- salamanders and newts
- frogs and toads
Then within these three orders there are 4,015 species, so there are all kinds of amphibians for us to take a look at.
One of the fascinating things about diversity in the amphibia class is the range of colors these animals exhibit. Amphibians have special pigment cells in the top layer of their skin, and often have the ability to change colors by adjusting their hormones.
Color changing like this is used to adjust body temperature, with amphibians switching to dark tones when they need to absorb more energy. It is also used to evade predators, and indeed to be more effective predators. Although, in cases like the poison-arrow frog bright pigmentation is used to deter predators.
The official name of color changing for concealment is “crypsis” and color changing for warning is “aposematic coloration”. There are some species that exhibit crypsis on their backs and aposematic coloration on their bellies; a good example of this is the oriental fire-bellied toad (Bombina orientalis) which has a camouflaged back and a distinctive orange belly.
The South American false-eyed frog serves as a reminder that there are indeed all kinds of amphibians. This frog turns away from its attackers to display two spots that look like huge intimidating eyeballs. Then there are some frogs with colors invisible the human eye: Australia’s white tree frog has a nose that is only visible for eyes that can detect infrared.
Finally it is quite common for the male and female to be different colors so that amongst all the different kinds of amphibians, the males and females can quickly tell on another apart. Unfortunately that is not the case for all species and sexing can be quite difficult for some kinds of amphibians.