Sphaerotheca Günther, 1859

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Dicroglossidae > Subfamily: Dicroglossinae > Genus: Sphaerotheca
9 species

Sphaerotheca Günther, 1859 "1858", Cat. Batr. Sal. Coll. Brit. Mus.: 20. Type species: Sphaerotheca strigata Günther, 1859 "1858", by monotypy.

English Names

Burrowing Frogs (Dinesh, Radhakrishnan, Deepak, and Kulkarni, 2023, Fauna India Checklist, vers. 5.0 : 5).


Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka; central Myanmar and presumably to be found in Bangladesh.


See comment under Tomopterna. Asian members of Tomopterna removed to Rana by Dubois, 1984, Alytes, 3: 143-159, but this was superseded by Dubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 56-57, who included several of them and recognized two subgenera (Sphaerotheca and Tomopterna) which were subsequently (Dubois and Ohler, 2000, Alytes, 18: 35) considered to be separate genera on the basis of its posited closer relationship to Hoplobatrachus and Fejervarya than Tomopterna (now in Pyxicephalidae). In the subfamily Dicroglossinae, tribe Dicroglossini according to Dubois, Ohler, and Biju, 2001, Alytes, 19: 55. Vences, Glaw, Kosuch, Das, and Veith, 2000, Lourenço and Goodman (eds.), Diversité et Endéémisme à Madagascar: 229-242, suggested that this taxon may be closely related to the Cacosternines (Petropedetidae). Anders, 2002, in Schleich and Kästle (eds.), Amph. Rept. Nepal: 301-316, provided a key and accounts for the species in Nepal. Grosjean, Vences, and Dubois, 2004, Biol. J. Linn. Soc., 81: 171-181, suggested on the basis of molecular data that Sphaerotheca is close to Fejervarya. Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297, and Kotaki, Kurabayashi, Matsui, Khonsue, Tjong, Tandon, and Sumida, 2008, Zool. Sci., Tokyo, 25: 381-390, suggested that Sphaerotheca is phylogenetically imbedded within a paraphyletic Fejervarya. Dahanukar, Sulakhe, and Padhye, 2017, J. Threatened Taxa, 9: 10269–10285, revised the genus, delimiting three species groups: Leucorhynchus group (Sphaerotheca strachani, Sphaerotheca leucorhynchus), Dobsoni group (Sphaerotheca swani, Sphaerotheca dobsoni, Sphaerotheca pluvialis), and Breviceps group (Sphaerotheca breviceps, Sphaerotheca maskeyi, Sphaerotheca rolandae).These authors showed enormous levels of misidentification in the literature and essentially a lack of any clarity in our understanding of ranges of these species, so caution is warranted. Prasad, Dinesh, Das, Swamy, Shinde, and Vishnu, 2019, Rec. Zool. Surv. India, 119: 201, present of ML tree of the species of Sphaerotheca based on both mtDNA and nuDNA sequences, although the sampling of anything other than 16s is so sparse (at least three of their genes are in only one terminal and three are found only in two, with only 12s, rhodopsin, and tyrosinase are found in three terminals) that it is hard to believe that the topology is due to anything other than 16s mtDNA. Jablonski, Masroor, and Hofmann, 2021, Diversity, 13 (216): 1–18, discussed the systematics of species in India and Pakistan solely the basis of 16s mtDNA but with dense taxon sampling, which, given the sparse-taxon sampling of the Prasad et al. (2019) paper, suggests that it renders a better estimate of the phylogeny. In addition to a robust phylogeny (albeit from a single gene) Jablonski et al. (2021) recovered results that suggest that nominal Sphaerotheca breviceps in Myanmar is an unnamed lineage, more closely related to Sphaerotheca pluvialis than to Sphaerotheca breviceps

Contained taxa (9 sp.):

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