Tomopterna Duméril and Bibron, 1841

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Pyxicephalidae > Subfamily: Cacosterninae > Genus: Tomopterna
18 species

Tomopterna Duméril and Bibron, 1841, Erp. Gen., 6: 443. Type species: Pyxicephalus delalandii Tschudi, 1838, by subsequent designation of Boulenger, 1918, Bull. Soc. Zool. France, 43: 113 (who regarded it as subgenus of Rana).

English Names

Sand Frogs (Passmore and Carruthers, 1978, J. Herpetol. Assoc. Afr., 19: 4;Passmore and Carruthers, 1979, S. Afr. Frogs: 116; Channing and Howell, 2006, Amph. E. Afr.: 328; Du Preez and Carruthers, 2009, Compl. Guide Frogs S. Afr.: 432).

Burrowing Frogs (Van Dijk, 1978, J. Herpetol. Assoc. Afr., 17: 15).

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


Subsaharan Africa in savanna and arid regions.


Tomopterna was originally coined as a synonym of Pyxicephalus, which since 1961 would require that it not be available. However, article 11.6.1 allows names such as Tomopterna, treated as available prior to 1961 to be available Tomopterna previously considered a subgenus of Rana by Dubois, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 233. Synonymies for South African species are in Poynton, 1964, Ann. Natal Mus., 17: 96–102, under Pyxicephalus. Dubois, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 225–284, considered this genus a subgenus of Rana, closely related to Euphlyctis and Limnonectes. Clarke, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 285–331, noted that at least the African members of Euphlyctis were more closely related to Conraua and retained Euphlyctis as a subgenus of Rana, and Tomopterna as a monophyletic genus of unresolved relationship to other ranines. Asian members of the genus removed to Rana by Dubois, 1984, Alytes, 3: 143–159, but this was superseded by Dubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 56–57, who included several of them and recognized two subgenera (Sphaerotheca and Tomopterna) which were subsequently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 separate genera. Dawood, Channing, and Bogart, 2002, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 22: 407–413, reported on the phylogenetics of the sub-Saharan species and noted three undescribed species, two from Namibia (one from Khorixas [subsequently confirmed as Tomopterna damarensis] and one from Shankara [subsequently confirmed as Tomopterna cryptotis) and one from Mozambique (Beira). Channing, Moyer, and Dawood, 2004, Afr. J. Herpetol., 53: 21–28, provided a table comparing the morphology of Tomopterna luganga, Tomopterna marmorata, Tomopterna cryptotis, Tomopterna tandyi, and Tomopterna tuberculosa. Dawood and Uqubay, 2004, Afr. Zool., 39: 145–151, provided a molecular phylogeny of Tomopterna, suggesting that a population from Mauritania is an unnamed species, forming the sister taxon of a group composed of all Tomopterna with the exception of Tomopterna natalensis. Du Preez and Carruthers, 2009, Compl. Guide Frogs S. Afr.: 432–449, provided a key and accounts for the species of southern Africa. Zimkus and Larson, 2011, Zootaxa, 2933: 27–45, reported on molecular relationships and provided a key to the species of East Africa. Mercurio, 2011, Amph. Malawi: 292–297, provided accounts and an identification key for the species of Malawi. Channing, Rödel, and Channing, 2012, Tadpoles of Africa: 356–361, provided information on comparative larval morphology. Wasonga and Channing, 2013, Zootaxa, 3734: 221–240, provided a key to the species of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Wilson and Channing, 2019, Zootaxa, 4609: 225–246, provided a phylogenetic tree of the species along with range maps, including noting at least two unnamed species. See Bittencourt-Silva, 2019, Amph. Rept. Conserv., 13 (2: e181): 13, for comment on unnamed population in western Zambia genetically related to one noted by Dawood et al., 2002, from Shankara, Namibia. This species was confirmed by Channing and Du Preez, 2020, Alytes, 37: 1–21, as Tomopterna cryptotis. Note that records of Tomopterna cryptotis from Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Egypt, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cent. Afr. Rep., Chad, and Guinea have been reassigned to other species or are of uncertain status. Channing and Rödel, 2019, Field Guide Frogs & Other Amph. Afr.: 378–383, provided brief accounts, photographs, and range maps for the species. Channing and Du Preez, 2020, Alytes, 37: 1–21, described Tomopterna adiastola from southern Africa, which had been confused with Tomopterna cryptotisPortik, Streicher, and Wiens, 2023, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 188 (107907): 66, suggested on the basis of their molecular evidence that recognition of Nothophryne renders Tomopterna non-monophyletic but did not take the taxonomic remedy. Willems and Channing, 2023, Zootaxa, 5374: 361–389, provided a molecular tree (16s) of species within the genus. 

Contained taxa (18 sp.):

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