Arianna Jenelle Olivares


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Osteoderms are bony deposits that form and are embedded within the dermis layer of vertebrate skin. Osteoderms can be found in many species of tetrapods (amphibians, reptiles, and mammals), but are most well known from crocodilians, lizards, and armadillos. These structures are generally plate-like but can exhibit substantial variation in size, shape, thickness, surface ornamentation within and across species. The function of osteoderms is also variable, acting as protective armor, aiding in heat exchange and thermoregulation, or serving as a calcium reservoir. Several frog species have previously been reported to possess osteoderms, but the evolution, diversity, and function of these structures within living amphibians is poorly understood. The central aim of this study is to investigate the presence and characteristics of osteoderms among species to better understand how many times this trait has evolved in frogs and infer potential functions based on ecological data from the literature. We are using publicly available micro-computed tomography (microCT) data of all major frog groups to identify all species that possess osteoderms and to quantify osteoderm diversity (e.g., size, shape, thickness). Our results demonstrate that 1) osteoderms have evolved many times throughout the frog tree of life, 2) the location and anatomy of osteoderms vary substantially across species, and 3) these structures have arisen in species that vary dramatically in body size and ecology.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Daniel J. Paluh

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Evolution and Diversity of Frog Osteoderms