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Aquatic larval stage of frogs and toads. Tadpoles have a short, oval body, broad tail, small mouth, and no external gills. Most are herbivorous, but those of some species are predatory or even cannibalistic. Tadpole metamorphosis follows a pattern of gradual development of forelimbs and hind limbs, resorption of the tail, shortening of the intestine, disappearance of the gills, and development of the lungs. On completion of metamorphosis, the young frog or toad emerges onto land.
Variants of TADPOLE
tadpole or polliwog
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tadpole, visit Britannica.com.