An immunological analysis of the phylogenetic relationships between two enigmatic frogs, Myobatrachus and Arenophryne



The monotypic Australian frog genera Myobatrachus and Arenophryne occur in Western Australia. Myobatrachus has a bizarre appearance with a small, narrow head and extremely short limbs—features which may represent adaptations to its forward burrowing habit and dietary specialization on termites. Because of its unusual morphology, Myobatrachus has been interpreted as a representative of an old lineage dating back to the early Tertiary or late Mesozoic era. Phylogenetic analysis of albumin evolution in these two genera, as well as five additional purportedly related frog genera, demonstrates that Myobatrachus and Arenophryne are one another's closest genetic relatives and these lineages most likely diverged in the Miocene. The genera Metacrinia and Pseudophryne are most closely related to the lineage giving rise to Myobatrachus and Arenophryne, with these two major lineages diverging in the early Miocene.