Morphological comparison of five Ranitomeya species
The morphology of larvae stages of most amphibians are often completely different than in
adults. Tadpole descriptions have historically been based on external characters like morphometrics, color pattern and oral disc structure. Other papers described anatomical details by the use of dissections. The increase in micro-CT scanning technology provides an opportunity to quantify and describe in detail internal characters like skeleton, musculature and organs. To date, no such tadpole descriptions exist for the well-studied Neotropical poison dart frog genus Ranitomeya (Anura: Dendrobatidae). Here we provide descriptions of the internal skeletal, musculature and organ structures of five Ranitomeya species and then provide morphological comparisons. Contrary to previous observations, closely related species display several morphological differences. For example, we observed considerable variation in chondrocranial characters, the extent of cranial ossifications, the appearance of some cranial muscles and the arrangement of inner organs. Further studies on the tadpole morphology of more species of Ranitomeya and other dendrobatid genera are needed to
enable us to understand the complete morphological variation in this group.