Sphaerotheca breviceps (Schneider, 1799)

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Dicroglossidae > Subfamily: Dicroglossinae > Genus: Sphaerotheca > Species: Sphaerotheca breviceps

Rana breviceps Schneider, 1799, Hist. Amph. Nat.: 140. Syntypes: Including ZMB 3351 (2 specimens), according to Peters, 1863, Monatsber. Preuss. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, 1863: 76. ZMB 55005 (formerly one of the lot of two under ZMB 3351) designated lectotype by Dahanukar, Sulakhe, and Padhye, 2017, J. Threatened Taxa, 9: 10271. Type locality: "Indes orientales"; "probablement de Tranquebar (Tamil Nadu; 11° 02′ N, 79° 51′ E)" according to Dubois, 1983, Alytes, 2: 164. 

Rana variegata Gravenhorst, 1829, Delic. Mus. Zool. Vratislav., 1: 33. Types: Stated to be in the "museo Lampeano", animal figured on pl. 8, fig. 1; current status not known. Type locality: not stated. Synonymy by Boulenger, 1890, Fauna Brit. India, Rept. Batr.: 451; Boulenger, 1920, Rec. Indian Mus., 20: 103. Preoccupied by Rana variegata Linnaeus, 1758 (= Bombina variegata). See comments by  Dahanukar, Sulakhe, and Padhye, 2017, J. Threatened Taxa, 9: 10280–10281. 

Systoma brevicepsTschudi, 1838, Classif. Batr.: 86.

Pyxicephalus brevicepsGünther, 1864, Rept. Brit. India: 411.

Rana (Tomopterna) brevicepsBoulenger, 1920, Rec. Indian Mus., 20: 102; Dubois, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 233; by implication.

Tomopterna brevicepsDeckert, 1938, Sitzungsber. Ges. Naturforsch. Freunde Berlin, 1938: 142.

Rana (Tomopterna) breviceps brevicepsDubois, 1983, Alytes, 2: 166.

Tomopterna (Sphaerotheca) brevicepsDubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 57.

Sphaerotheca brevicepsDubois, 1999, J. South Asian Nat. Hist., 4: 8. Vences, Glaw, Kosuch, Das, and Veith, 2000, Lourenço and Goodman (eds.), Diversité et Endéémisme à Madagascar: 232.

English Names

Indian Burrowing Frog (Minton, 1966, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 134: 58; Schleich, Anders, and Kästle, 2002, in Schleich and Kästle (eds.), Amph. Rept. Nepal: 80; Daniels, 2005, Amph. Peninsular India: 241; Dinesh, Radhakrishnan, Gururaja, and Bhatta, 2009, Rec. Zool. Surv. India, Occas. Pap., 302: 35).

Burrowing Frog (Khan, 1979, Biologia, Lahore, 25: 42; Khan, 2002, Bull. Chicago Herpetol. Soc., 37: 161).

Punjab Bullfrog (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 110).

Short-headed Burrowing Frog (Das and Dutta, 1998, Hamadryad, 23: 66; Daniels, 2005, Amph. Peninsular India: 241).

Clumsy-looking Burrowing Frog (Chanda, 2002, Handb. Indian Amph.: 212).

Burrowing Frog (Shrestha, 2001, Herpetol. Nepal: 88).

Olive Frog (Shrestha, 2001, Herpetol. Nepal: 88).

Band Sand Frog (Daniels, 2005, Amph. Peninsular India: 244; de Silva, 2009, Amph. Rep. Sri Lanka Photograph. Guide: 75).


Pakistan (Punjab and Sind), and Gangetic Plain to the eastern coast of India, east to West Bengal, India; arid Sri Lanka; presumably to be found in Bangladesh and northeastern India; possibly in Maldives (see comment); records from Myanmar based on another species (see comment). 


All literature prior to the revision of Dahanukar, Sulakhe, and Padhye, 2017, J. Threatened Taxa, 9: 10269–10285, probably is based on mixed samples of species, more of a concern in the north as opposed to the south of India) and should be used with caution (DRF). These authors also noted that the Myanmar records are based on some species other than Sphaerotheca breviceps. See accounts by Boulenger, 1920, Rec. Indian Mus., 20: 103, Minton, 1966, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 134: 58; and Dutta and Manamendra-Arachchi, 1996, Amph. Fauna Sri Lanka: 129-107. Biju, 2001, Occas. Publ. Indian Soc. Conserv. Biol., 1: 17, suggested that revision of this nominal species is needed. Chanda, 2002, Handb. Indian Amph.: 142-143, 212-213, provided a brief account (as Tomopterna breviceps), as did Ray, 1999, Mem. Zool. Surv. India, 18: 50-54. Anders, 2002, in Schleich and Kästle (eds.), Amph. Rept. Nepal: 301-306, provided a key and accounts for the species in Nepal. See brief account (as Tomopterna breviceps) by Shrestha, 2001, Herpetol. Nepal: 88-89. Sarkar, Biswas, and Ray, 1992, State Fauna Ser., 3: 88-89, provided a brief account for West Bengal, India. Dubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 57, regarded Rana swani as incertae sedis within Sphaerotheca or a synonym of one of the other species.  Dubois, 2004, Alytes, 21: 176, noted that Sphaerotheca breviceps, Sphaerotheca maskeyi, and Sphaerotheca swani were junior synonyms of this species, which he asserted shows striking color pattern polymorphism and should be called Sphaerotheca pluvialis, without further explanation. Dubois, 1999, J. South Asian Nat. Hist., 4: 8, suggested that Sphaerotheca breviceps is a small-sized species, closely related to, or conspecific with Sphaerotheca rolandae. For the large-sized species of South Asia, he suggested that the names Rana variegata Gravenhorst, 1829; Pyxicephalus fodiens Jerdon, 1853; Pyxicephalus pluvialis Jerdon, 1853; Sphaerotheca strigata Gunther, 1859; Rana dobsonii Boulenger, 1882; Tomopterna strachani Murray, 1884; Rana leuchorhynchus Rao, 1937; and Rana swani Myers and Leviton, 1956, are available (a prescient observation---DRF). He also regarded Tomopterna maskeyi to be a provisional synonym of this large-size taxon, although none of the evidence to support this conclusion were presented in this publication and this taxon was subsequently resurrected. Dutta, 1997, Amph. India Sri Lanka: 166-168, provided a range, systematic comments, and partial taxonomic bibliography. Khan, 2006, Amph. Rept. Pakistan: 66-67, provided an account for Pakistan. Glaw and Rosado, 2006, Herpetol. Rev., 37: 502, discussed the possibility of occurrence of this species in Maldives. Daniels, 2005, Amph. Peninsular India: 241-244, provided an account. Mehta, 2005, in Alfred (ed.), Fauna W. Himalaya, Part 2: 270, reported the species in Himanchal Pradesh, India, without noting specific localities. de Silva, 2009, Amph. Rep. Sri Lanka Photograph. Guide: 75, provided a brief account and color photograph for Sri Lanka. See Shah and Tiwari, 2004, Herpetofauna Nepal: 73, for brief account. See Shah and Tiwari, 2004, Herpetofauna Nepal: 73, for brief account. Masroor, 2012, Contr. Herpetol. N. Pakistan: 67–68, provided an account for northern Pakistan. Sivaprasad, 2013, Common Amph. Kerala: 58–59, provided a brief account, photograph, and dot map for Kerala, India. Subba, Aravind, and Ravikanth, 2016, Check List, 13(1: 2033): 12, considered the presence of this species in Sikkim, India, to be doubtful. 

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