This paper summarizes terminology and general concepts involved in animal development for the purpose of providing background for the study and understanding of frog malformations. The results of our radiographic investigation of rear limb malformations in Rana pipiens provide evidence that frog malformations are the product of early developmental errors. Although bacteria, parasites and viruses were identified in these metamorphosed frogs, the relevant window to look for the teratogenic effect of these agents is in the early tadpole stage during limb development. As a result, our microbiological findings must be regarded as inconclusive relative to determining their contribution to malformations because we conducted our examinations on metamorphosed frogs not tadpoles. Future studies need to look at teratogenic agents (chemical, microbial, physical or mechanical) that are present in the embryo, tadpole, and their environments at the stages of development that are relevant for the malformation type. The impact of these teratogenic agents then needs to be assessed in appropriate animal models using studies that are designed to mimic field conditions. The results of these laboratory tests should then be analyzed in such a way that will allow comparison with the findings in the wild-caught tadpoles and frogs.
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Defining anural malformations in the context of a developmental problem