Excretory System

The kidneys are the primary excretory organs. One kidney lies on either side of the spine against the dorsal body wall. The kidneys filter nitrogenous wastes from the blood. These wastes, flushed from the body with water, are known as urine. Urine flows from the kidneys to the cloaca through tiny tubes called urinary ducts. From the cloaca, it flows into the urinary bladder, which branches from the ventral wall of the cloaca. For many terrestrial amphibians, the urinary bladder serves as a water-storage organ. During dry periods, water can be reabsorbed from the urine in the bladder.

Like the larvae of fishes, most amphibian larvae excrete the nitrogen-containing wastes as ammonia. Because ammonia is very toxic, it must be removed from the body quickly or diluted with large amounts of water in the urine. To conserve water, adult amphibians transform ammonia into urea, a less-toxic substance that can be excreted without using as much water. Although this transformation uses energy, it helps save water. During metamorphosis, larval amphibians change from excreting ammonia to excreting urea.

figure 40-11

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