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Most amphibians - at least, all the ones I know of - start their lives in the water (at least, after they hatch). They then spend time maturing before venturing onto land, where they can breed. The cycle than begins again.

Are there any cases where the reverse is true, i.e. a young amphibian starts life on land before venturing into the water as an adult?

Wikipedia hints that this may be the case, but fails to provide examples:

Amphibians typically start out as larvae living in water, but some species have developed behavioural adaptations to bypass this.

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe that most amphibians lay their eggs in the water because their food (larvae,fish etc.) lives in water.So their newborn babies will have something to eat. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2015 at 8:31

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From wiki:

Most amphibians lay their eggs in water and have aquatic larvae that undergo metamorphosis to become terrestrial adults

This suggests clearly that not all of them do so.

Here are a few interesting cases I could think of:

  • The common midwife toad carry the eggs on their back. The eggs are not necessarily submerged by water then.

  • To my knowledge, the Seepage salamander have terrestrial larvae but they don't feed before they reach the adult age.

  • The lungless salamanders has a larval stage that is within the egg. When the egg hatches, the individual that comes out is already an adult.

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Arguably, since this frog spends the entire larval stage inside a pitcher plant on land, it has started its life cycle on land.

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A group of zoologists with Conservation International say they found the frogs by the side of the road in Borneo, near a national park. They were very hard to locate because of their small size, but the scientists followed the frog's loud calls (you can listen to some here) and discovered them living among pitcher plants. They lay their eggs on the inside of the pitchers, and tadpoles grow up swimming in the tiny pools of rainwater that collect in the bottom of these plants. While most species of pitcher plant are carnivorous, the ones preferred by these tiny frogs only eat leaves - in fact, the frogs most likely help break down the leaf material and aid in the plant's digestion.

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The moss froglet is an example of a frog which lays eggs on land and the tadpoles develop over several months in the egg mass amongst moss.

The Moss Froglet is a most unusual frog in that tadpoles develop on land. Breeding occurs from November to February. Four to 16 large eggs are laid in clumps of sphagnum or lichen and the tadpoles develop within the egg. After hatching the tadpoles do not feed, but spend the following 9-10 months of development within a fluid derived from the broken-down egg capsules (a gelatinous mass).

Source: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=5258

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