The tadpole represents an aquatic larval stage in Hyla versicolor's life. As the tadpoles grow over a 45-65 day period, two external gills transform into internal organs and then are absorbed into the body and lungs develop from the gill system. Kidneys and other parts of the urinary system transform, the intestine (specialized for a vegetarian diet) shortens (in order to better process the adult's carnivorous preferences), and sexual organs begin development. The larva's eyes begin to bulge, their internal structure transforming, and eyelids form for the protection of the eye in a terestriasl environment. The skin thickens and develops dermal glands as the cartilageneous structures of the tadpole harden into adult bone. Hindlimbs emerge from buds on the posterior end of the creature amnd soon become functional. Front legs develop as well, yet they remain inside chambers near the gills until late in the metamorphosis. Muscles in the limbs and eyes are strengthened, while the tail muscle deenerates, allowing the appendage to be absorbed into the body.
Tadpole morphology is an important identifying mark for anuran species, and Hyla versicolor certainly exhibits unique larval characteristics. Though they exhibit features typical to hylids (oral disc present that is not emarginate, serated jaws with keratinized sheaths, a narrow A-2 gap, a single spiracle, and a dextral anus with no anal flap), Hyla versicolr tadpoles can be recognized as such due to the presence of:
If a specimen is found with all of these characteristics, it is either Hyla versicolor or Hyla chrysoscelis, as the two species cannot be distinguished by larval morphology alone. In order to assure which species your specimen is, you can wait for it to mature(hoping that it will develop into a male and you'll be able to test its call) or take a blood sample to determine whether it is a diploid or tetraploid.
To discover more about the life history of Hyla versicolor, click here.
To dissect other hylid traits, click here.
To differentiate between the Cope's gray treefrog and the gray treefrog, click here.
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