I know frogs still exist but that doesn't mean there wasn't ever a frog population that evolved into toads. Did frogs evolve into toads because their available swamp slowly went away and toads could survive better without water? Did frogs and toads evolve independently from similar selection pressure for shape?

  • $\begingroup$ I think you're mixed up; tadpoles are the baby form of frogs, not toads. $\endgroup$
    – Timothy
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ Oops... That was a translation issue. Sorry about that. I removed my comments. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 3:23

2 Answers 2


"Toads", as commonly used, are not a monophyletic grouping - that is, all toads do not descend from a single common ancestor which only produced other toads. Instead, it's a polyphyletic grouping of those frog species which show common morphological characteristics related to a primarily terrestrial lifestyle. As a polyphyletic group, the parsimonious assumption is that various species of toads evolved from frogs on multiple occasions.

There's several possibilities for similar morphological features in the different toad lineages. The first is convergent evolution - similar selection pressure in the shared terrestrial environment selected for novel generation of similar features. Another is that the common ancestor of frogs and toads had morphological aspects that were a blend between frogs and toads, and depending on environment "toad-like" or "frog-like" features become more prominent or recessive - that is, "toad" genes are sitting dormant in the DNA of most frog species, waiting for the right environment to be expressed. In all likelihood the true explanation probably will be a combination of the two.

By the way, most toad species still depend on bodies of water, particularly for breeding. For example, the common toad (Bufo bufo) will go to a pond to lay its eggs, where the young toads will spend time as aquatic tadpoles before they metamorphosize into the adult form. So when thinking about toad evolution, it's probably incorrect to view it strictly as frogs compensating for losing access to water (though that might have happened for some species), but rather toads evolving to take advantage of the opportunities presented by a terrestrial habitat that's coexisting alongside watery environments.


It is more important to understand the entire argument of evolutionary assumption. For instance, we have no solid observational, repeatable or testable evidence that the frog or toad evolved into one or the other. We are assuming a lot in this instance. Convergent Evolution is totally crazy.

We hinge a lot of belief upon 'possibilities' and unobserved 'data' through computer generation, and uniformity. The problem is no one considers that the genetic code will not and can not add information to the gene pool (such as teeth to no teeth, hard skin, or wet skin,) some mutations and adaptations can improve a kind of life form but it has its limits in the DNA.

The truth is, we cannot say that frogs and toads evolved into anything because we have not observed this ever. We have observed species varying among kinds. However, the toad and the frog are different kinds of reptiles just as the lizard differs from the tortoise. Always go by fact question assumption.

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    $\begingroup$ Convergent evolution is amply demonstrated, e.g. ichthyosaurs/swordfish &c/dolphin, pterosaurs/birds/bats. Nor are toads and frogs reptiles, they are amphibians. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ Although I think there is a positive contribution contained within this answer, namely that people should understand where scientific conclusions come from, I think this answer overall misunderstands the tools that are available and is outright misleading in several ways. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 18:53

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