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David Blackburn - University of Florida. Gainesville, FL, US

David Blackburn

Curator/Associate Chair | University of Florida

Gainesville, FL, UNITED STATES

David Blackburn is an evolutionary biologist specializing in amphibians at the Florida Museum of Natural History.


David Blackburn is the curator of amphibians and reptiles as well as the associate chair of the Department of Natural History at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Dave's research focuses on the diversity, evolution and conservation of amphibians, especially frogs. His research group conducts studies in natural history museums, at tropical field sites, and in the laboratory using molecular genetic methods or high-resolution CT-scanning. David has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific articles and served as an investigator on more than a dozen external grants, mostly from National Science Foundation, totaling more than $20 million.

Areas of Expertise (7)

New Species





Fossil Vertebrates


Media Appearances (3)

Cane toads fling their tongues so hard the recoil slaps their heart

New Scientist  online


Many frog species have tongues that are powerfully sticky and yank prey into their mouths. The muscular and skeletal dance that allows the frog to extend its tongue and ensnare prey is relatively well-understood, says David Blackburn at the University of Florida.

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Fossil Shows Cold-Blooded Frogs Lived on Warm Antarctica

The New York Times  print


Helmeted frogs, said David Blackburn, an amphibian biologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, are more closely related to frogs in Australia than they are to all the other frogs that live in South America.

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World's Oldest Rain Forest Frogs Found in Amber

National Geographic  print


However, Blackburn, who is one of the study authors, hopes that as more fossils are collected, they will find even better-preserved samples and be able to compare them with living frogs. That would allow scientists to ask more sophisticated questions about the way these ancient frogs lived and evolved.

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Articles (3)

XROMM Analysis of Feeding Mechanics in Toads: Interactions of the Tongue, Hyoid, and Pectoral Girdle

Integrative Organismal Biology

R M Keefe, et al.


During feeding in many terrestrial vertebrates, the tongue acts in concert with the hyoid and pectoral girdle. In frogs, these three elements are interconnected by musculature. While the feeding mechanics of the anuran tongue are well-studied, little is known of how the motions of the tongue relate to the movements of the skeleton or how buccal structures move following closure of the mouth.

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Semicircular canal size constrains vestibular function in miniaturized frogs

Science Advances

Richard L. Essner Jr., et al.


Miniaturization has evolved repeatedly in frogs in the moist leaf litter environments of rainforests worldwide. Miniaturized frogs are among the world’s smallest vertebrates and exhibit an array of enigmatic features. One area where miniaturization has predictable consequences is the vestibular system, which acts as a gyroscope, providing sensory information about movement and orientation.

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The earliest record of Caribbean frogs: a fossil coquí from Puerto Rico

Biology Letters

David C. Blackburn, et al.


The nearly 200 species of direct-developing frogs in the genus Eleutherodactylus (the Caribbean landfrogs, which include the coquís) comprise an important lineage for understanding the evolution and historical biogeography of the Caribbean. Time-calibrated molecular phylogenies provide indirect evidence for the processes that shaped the modern anuran fauna, but there is little direct evidence from the fossil record of Caribbean frogs about their distributions in the past.

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