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Abstract We examined the emergence of a critical component of sex, response to sexual signals— phonotaxis—in male and female tungara frogs (Physalaemus pustulosus). We determined the ontogenetic trajectories of phonotactic responses as animals developed from metamorphic froglets to reproductive adults. The results demonstrated that species-typical phonotaxis emerges quite early during postmetamorphic development, well before sexual maturity, suggesting that a developmentally early bias in the auditory system for species-typical signals might be a more general phenomenon than previously thought, and that the neural circuits responsible for processing and responding to conspecific advertisement signals in a species-typical manner might develop long before the coordinated behavior is demanded of the organism.