Under Construction

Triadobatrachus massinotigroup is extinct

David Cannatella
Containing group: Salientia


The earliest known salientian is †Triadobatrachus massinoti, from the Early Triassic of Madagascar; it is known from a single fossil. This "proto-frog" is about 250 million years old. It is a "proto-frog" because it had not yet quite evolved to the combination of features that we think of as being associated with frogs.

Triadobatrachus had 14 vertebrae in front of the sacrum, and had a short tail, with the tail vertebrae separate from each other. In Triadobatrachus the radius and ulna (bones of the forearm) were not fused to each other; neither were the tibia and fibula (bones of the shank). The tibiale and fibulare of †Triadobatrachus may be slightly elongate, but not nearly to the degree seen in frogs. However, features that clearly link †Triadobatrachus to frogs are an anteriorly directed ilium, reduction in number of presacral vertebrae (to 14), fusion of the frontal and parietal into a frontoparietal bone, and a toothless dentary bone in the lower jaw. There is a large morphological gap between frogs and salamanders, and †Triadobatrachus has many of the features that you would expect from an organism that is intermediate between the two. This taxon is known from a single specimen. It was re-studied by Rage and Rocek (1989).


Rage, J.-C., and Z. Rocek. 1989. Redescription of Triadobatrachus massinoti (Piveteau, 1936) an anuran amphibian from the early Triassic. Palaeontographica Abt. A 206(1-3):1-16.

About This Page

David Cannatella
University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to David Cannatella at

Page: Tree of Life Triadobatrachus massinoti. Authored by David Cannatella. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Cannatella, David. 1995. Triadobatrachus massinoti. Version 01 January 1995 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Triadobatrachus_massinoti/16962/1995.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

edit this page
close box

This page is a Tree of Life Leaf Page.

Each ToL leaf page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a leaf at the tip of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a leaf and a branch of the Tree of Life is that a leaf cannot generally be further subdivided into subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

close box

Triadobatrachus massinoti

Page Content

articles & notes



Explore Other Groups

random page

  go to the Tree of Life home page