Early Miocene fossil frogs (Anura: Leiopelmatidae) from New Zealand.
Tennyson, Alan J D
Scofield, R Paul
Hand, Suzanne J
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The first pre-Quaternary anurans from New Zealand are reported from the Early Miocene (19–16 Ma) St Bathans Fauna based on 10 fossil bones. Four bones representing two new species differing in size are described in Leiopelma: Leiopelmatidae, and are the first Tertiary records for the family. Six indeterminate frog fossils are morphologically similar to leiopelmatids and represent two species consistent in size with those known from diagnostic material. These records are highly significant, as minimally, they reduce the duration of the leiopelmatid ‘ghost lineage’ by c.20 million years and demonstrate that a diversity of leiopelmatids has long been present on New Zealand, supporting the ancient dichotomy of the extant species based on molecular data.