A frog’s tale

Fleays barred frog small
Fleay’s barred frog (Mixophyes fleayi). Pastel on paper, original size 21 x 29.5 cm.


This is Fleay’s barred frog, one of several species of large frog in the genus Mixophyes that occur in or near streams associated with Australian wet forests. Now when you look at a frog, you might think that it’s a short-lived, rather ephemeral creature. Tadpoles come and go, and both frogs and tadpoles make tasty snacks for many other animals. But have you ever wondered how old frogs are? I mean, in terms of evolutionary time?

Some scientists have estimated that the Mixophyes frog lineage has been around for about 90 million years. That’s a lot longer than the human lineage, or even the lineages of most modern mammals. Furthermore, it may have been the diversification of flowering plants in the Cretaceous, and the associated diversification of insects, that also triggered the evolution of many different types of frogs. Around 82% of recent amphibian species live in forests, which may indicate that frogs and flowering plants have a long history together.

It’s highly likely that frogs like this Fleay’s barred frog have been mooching around in the leaf litter and streams of Australian forests for millions of years longer than people, pademelons or even fruit pigeons, have existed. You might want to think about that, next time you go for a walk in the rainforest, and see some fat tadpoles in a stream, or hear a frog calling.


10 Responses

  1. Mary

    Well done, Paula. I’m delighted to learn about your new greeting card selections available for purchase. I will be looking forward to the launch of your online shop on your website. Keep me in the loop.

    • Paula Peeters

      Thanks Mary for you interest and ongoing encouragement. I will certainly be making a fuss when I launch the shop. I haven’t forgotten about your kind invite either, I’ve just been rather flat out and haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Mt Glorious for quite a while now. But I will get over your way one day, and will let you know when I do.

    • Paula Peeters

      Hey thanks Nicole, glad you liked him/her (hard to tell with frogs)

  2. Gail

    This is wonderful news Paula. I’m really happy to hear it. When I saw the excerpt of this post in my reader, I immediately thought of the Binna Burra shop as an ideal match for your work. Combining it with an online shop sounds even better. Keep us posted!

    • Paula Peeters

      Thanks Gail, yes I’m also hoping that people who like visiting Binna Burra will also appreciate my artwork.

  3. Dayna

    Hi Paula,
    We are lucky to have so many beautiful frogs in Australia. Litoria is probably the best known genus (surely most people have heard of green tree frogs? Or am I showing I’m from Qld/the east coast again?) – but as you’ve shown here, there are many strikingly coloured frogs in other genus. The frog whose name I like the best is the ‘Pobblebonk’ (Limnodynastes dumerilii) – it is reasonably common here around Melbourne and has a very distinctive call. I’ve never actually spotted one, even though they’ve clearly been calling all around me! Very cryptic. 🙂

    • Paula Peeters

      Hi Dayna, thanks for reminding us about the gorgeous pobblebonk, one sound I do miss up here in Queensland is their little banjo serenades that emanate from ponds, dams, etc., down south. But then I shouldn’t complain as we have 4 species of Litoria in our suburban backyard plus a relative of the pobblebonk that goes ‘toc’. I think the wetland we created in the backyard has something to do with it . The sound of the graceful treefrogs when we get a serious summer downfall is deafening. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Jane

    Very interesting, and I look forward to the launch of your online shop Paula. I will be taking a peek!

    • Paula Peeters

      Thanks Jane 🙂 I just need to get my head around some of the finer website details (it’s a bit of a steep learning curve) then it’ll be all systems go. I’ll certainly be making a fuss when it’s time to launch. Thanks for your support, cheers Paula.