Frogs are vertebrates, so they have bones and a skeletal structure. Their bones are well adapted to the functions of jumping and swimming, as frogs have longer and stronger hind legs with joints that allow them to curl up tightly.
The skeleton of a frog varies quite a lot from the bone structures of other vertebrates. They have only five to nine vertebrae, long hind legs, and remarkably short front legs, and a relatively broad skull without a defined jaw structure.
They also don’t have a tail and have a strong hip structure to support them while jumping.
The Skeletal Anatomy of a Frog
The anatomy of a frog is quite unique in itself. Frogs are vertebrates, meaning they have bones and joints, just like other vertebrates. The main structure of a frog skeleton has some similarities with human skeletons, for example.
They have a spine and legs, as well as a skull, although there are some other notable omissions, too.
To help you better understand the structure of a frog’s skeleton and how it functions, let’s take a closer look at each section of the frog and how it looks.
1. The Head
Let’s start with the head of the frog, which is quite broad and large compared to the rest of the skeletal structure.
Frogs still have a small brain, and the skull aims to protect the brains and other internal structures of the head. The most significant feature of the frog’s skull is the large eye openings on each side of the skull, which are disproportionately large compared to other species.
Frogs also don’t have a neck like humans or other animals do, meaning they can’t turn their heads around.
The frog’s head also doesn’t have a strong and defined jawline, which is clearly seen with most frog species out there. Some frogs also have teeth while others don’t have them at all.
There is only one frog that has both upper and lower teeth, and this species is called Gunther’s marsupial frog.
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2. Spine Structure
Next, let’s take a look at the unique spine structure of a frog.
The frog’s spine is remarkably short. While humans have 33 vertebrae on average, frogs are only born with nine of them, and sometimes, they might only have 5 vertebral bones altogether, which is not a lot at all.
The role of the frog’s spine is to provide stability for the body and enable it to move swiftly in space. The shorter spine allows the frog to jump more easily but at the same time, it doesn’t provide the same level of flexibility as spines of other animals do.
The frog’s spine is stiff and strong, allowing the frog to withstand the sometimes heavy landings.
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3. Front, Hind Legs, and Hips
The front and hind legs are quite remarkable with frogs.
The front legs are much shorter than the frog’s hind legs. They provide stability and additional support and act as “crutches” for hind legs as they are jumping. They’re very important for allowing the frog to catch itself when jumping.
But it’s the hind legs where the magic’s at.
These are much longer and bigger than the front legs. The hind legs have two sharp joints and five fingers on each leg. They extend from the hip bones, which are specifically made for the frog to allow it to jump easily.
The longer legs and joints allow the frog to jump easily and create more force as they do so.
The front legs only have four fingers, while the hind legs have five fingers. The role of the fingers is to provide extra stability when jumping, too.
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Do Frogs Have Cartilage and Joints?
Frogs have both cartilage and joints. Cartilage acts as the connective tissue that keeps two parts of a joint together, providing structure and stability to the frog’s body.
The knees of the frog, especially, have thick cartilage, which is meant to keep the bones together, because these joints are quite sharp.
This type of cartilage is quite different from human cartilage. It is much denser and thicker, which is a necessary adaptation since frogs jump a lot. This type of cartilage provides stability for the frog when it is jumping around.
Frogs also have two joints in the hind legs and one in their front legs. The two joints on their hind legs are sharp, which comes helpful when frogs extend these joints and jump. This type of structure allows the frog to leap further and more forcefully, allowing it to use the full extent of its musculature.
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Do Frogs Break Their Bones?
Frogs can break their bones, but they are quite well protected by the skin of the frog and the musculature, which prevents the frog from breaking its bones when jumping.
There are even some frogs that break their bones on purpose. One such example is the Trichobatrachus robustus, which will break its own bones to grow claws.
This adaptation is quite important for this frog because it enables it to start growing claws, providing it with more balance in the wild.
The worst injuries frogs can sustain are injuries to their hind legs or their spine. If that happens, the frog would not be able to jump and would thus become an easy target for its predators. Despite that, bone injuries in frogs are not very common.
Frogs are vertebrates which means they also have bones. Their bone structure allows them to jump and move around swiftly. The main purpose of the majority of its body parts is to allow the frog to jump and land without injuring itself.
Frogs also have joins and cartilage to hold these joints together. Some frogs also have teeth, although only one frog species has developed a full set of teeth.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.