Hemisotidae Cope, 1867

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Hemisotidae
9 species

Hemisidae Cope, 1867, J. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Ser. 2, 6: 198. Type genus: Hemisus Günther, 1859 "1858".

HemisinaMivart, 1869, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1869: 288. Explicit subfamily.

HemisotinaGünther, 1870, Zool. Rec., 6: 119. Justified emendation.

HemisiinaeMiranda-Ribeiro, 1926, Arq. Mus. Nac., Rio de Janeiro, 27: 19.

HemisinaeNoble, 1931, Biol. Amph.: 540.

HemisotidaeFrost and Savage, 1987, J. Herpetol. Assoc. Afr., 33: 24.

HemisotoidaeDubois, 1992, Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Lyon, 61: 309. Epifamily.

English Names

Shovelnosed Frogs (Ananjeva, Borkin, Darevsky, and Orlov, 1988, Dict. Amph. Rept. Five Languages: 51).

Shovelsnouted Frogs (Ananjeva, Borkin, Darevsky, and Orlov, 1988, Dict. Amph. Rept. Five Languages: 51).

Shovelnose Frogs (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 51).

Shovel-nosed Frogs (Vitt and Caldwell, 2009, Herpetology, 3rd Ed.: 468).

Snout-burrowers (Channing, 2001, Amph. Cent. S. Afr.: v).


Africa south of the Sahara.


Lynch, 1973, in Vial (ed.), Evol. Biol. Anurans: 133–210, regarded Hemisotidae (as Hemisinae of Ranidae) as forming an unresolved polytomy with Hyperoliidae and Ranidae (in the sense of including Arthroleptidae of this list). Haas, 2003, Cladistics, 19: 23–89, suggested on the basis of larval morphology that Hemisotidae is the sister-taxon of Hyperoliidae. (Haas did not study the direct-developing Brevicipitidae.) Laurent, 1980 "1979", Bull. Soc. Zool. France, 104: 417, raised the Linnaean rank of this taxon from subfamilial status within his Hyperoliidae (from within the Ranidae of other authors) to familial status. See discussion under Arthroleptidae. Blommers-Schlösser, 1993, Ethol. Ecol. Evol., 5: 199–218, suggested a close relationship of Hemisus and Breviceps, but this was considered premature by Channing, 1995, J. Herpetol. Assoc. Afr., 44: 55–57. Emerson, Richards, Drewes, and Kjer, 2000, Herpetologica, 56: 209–230, suggested that Hemisus was phylogenetically within Microhylidae. van der Meijden, Vences, and Meyer, 2004, Proc. R. Soc. London, B—Suppl. Biol. Lett., 271: S378–S381, presented molecular evidence of a close relationship of Hemisotidae and Brevicipitinae (Microhylidae). 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, suggested that Hemisotidae is the sister taxon of Brevicipitidae, and together the sister taxon of Hyperoliidae and Arthroleptidae. Dubois, 2005, Alytes, 23: 13, arbitrarily considered Hemisotidae to be one of six subfamilies in an enlarged Brevicipitidae. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543–583, confirmed the arrangement of Breviceps + (Callulina + (Spelaeophryne + Probreviceps)); like authors before them they did not have sequences of Balebreviceps. Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39–55, discussed briefly the taxonomic history of the group. Vitt and Caldwell, 2014, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Channing, Rödel, and Channing, 2012, Tadpoles of Africa: 176–180, reported on comparative tadpole morphology. Yuan, Zhang, Raxworthy, Weisrock, Hime, Jin, Lemmon, Lemmon, Holland, Kortyna, Zhou, Peng, Che, and Prendini, 2018, Natl. Sci. Rev., Beijing, 6: 10–14, reported on phylogenetics and biogeography as an element of Natatanura. Portik, Bell, Blackburn, Bauer, Barratt, Branch, Burger, Channing, Colston, Conradie, Dehling, Drewes, Ernst, Greenbaum, Gvoždík, Harvey, Hillers, Hirschfeld, Jongsma, Kielgast, Kouete, Lawson, Leaché, Loader, Lötters, van der Meijden, Menegon, Müller, Nagy, Ofori-Boateng, Ohler, Papenfuss, Rößler, Sinsch, Rödel, Veith, Vindum, Zassi-Boulou, and McGuire, 2019, Syst. Biol., 68: 866, confirmed the monophyly of Xenosyneunitanura, a taxon composed of Hemisotidae and Brevicipitidae, as a member of Afrobatrachia. Elias-Costa, Araujo-Vieira, and Faivovich, 2021, Cladistics, 37: 498–517, discussed the evolution of submandibular musculature optimized on the tree of Jetz and Pyron, 2018, Nature Ecol. & Evol., 2: 850–858, which provided morphological synapomorphies of Hemisotidae + Brevicipitidae.     

Contained taxa (9 sp.):

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