Concealed weapons: Erectile claws in African frogs

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Concealed weapons: Erectile claws in African frogs

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Title: Concealed weapons: Erectile claws in African frogs
Author: Hanken, James; Blackburn, David C.; Jenkins, Farish

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Blackburn, David C., James Hanken, and Farish A. Jenkins, Jr. 2008. Concealed weapons: Erectile claws in African frogs. Biology Letters 4(4): 355-357
Access Status: At the direction of the depositing author this work is not currently accessible through DASH.
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Abstract: Vertebrate claws are used in a variety of important behaviours and are typically composed of a keratinous sheath overlying the terminal phalanx of a digit. Keratinous claws, however, are rare in living amphibians; their microstructure and other features indicate that they probably originated independently from those in amniotes. Here we show that certain African frogs have a different type of claw, used in defence, that is unique in design among living vertebrates and lacks a keratinous covering. These frogs have sectorial terminal phalanges on their hind feet that become functional by cutting through the skin. In the resting state, the phalanx is subdermal and attached to a distal bony nodule, a neomorphic skeletal element, via collagen-rich connective tissue. When erected, the claw breaks free from the nodule and pierces the ventral skin. The nodule, suspended by a sheath attached to the terminal phalanx and supported by collagenous connections to the dermis, remains fixed in place. While superficially resembling the shape of claws in other tetrapods, these are the only vertebrate claws known to pierce their way to functionality.
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2008.0219
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:2680846

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  • FAS Scholarly Articles [7374]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University
 
 

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