Polypedates megacephalus Hallowell, 1861

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Rhacophoridae > Subfamily: Rhacophorinae > Genus: Polypedates > Species: Polypedates megacephalus

Polypedates megacephalus Hallowell, 1861 "1860", Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, 12: 507. Holotype: Presumably ANSP or USNM but likely now lost. Type locality: "Hong-Kong, China".

Polypedates maculatus var. unicolor Müller, 1878, Verh. Naturforsch. Ges. Basel, 6: 585. Types: NHMB. Type locality: "China". Nomen nudum. Synonymy by Stejneger, 1925, Proc. U.S. Natl. Mus., 66: 30; Zhao and Adler, 1993, Herpetol. China: 156.

Rana scutigera Andersson, 1916, K. Svensk. Vetensk. Akad. Handl., 55: 14. Holotype: NRM21661, according to Poyarkov, Solovyeva, Nguyen, and Geissler, 2020, Zootaxa, 4834: 506. Type locality: "Haut Sanuk, the Siamese Malaya, near the Tenasserim boundery [sic]", Ao Noi District, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Thailand. Discussed and clarified by Poyarkov, Solovyeva, Nguyen, and Geissler, 2020, Zootaxa, 4834: 506, who made the synonymy with Polypedates megacephalus.

Rhacophorus leucomystax megacephalusStejneger, 1925, Proc. U.S. Natl. Mus., 66: 30; Pope, 1931, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 61: 574; Inger, 1966, Fieldiana, Zool., 52: 308.

Hylarana scutigera — Bourret, 1942, Batr. Indochine: 98.

Rana (Hylarana) scutigera — Bourret, 1942, Batr. Indochine: 370.

Polypedates megacephalusMatsui, Seto, and Utsunomiya, 1986, J. Herpetol., 20: 483–489.

Rhacophorus (Rhacophorus) leucomystax megacephalusDubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 81.

Rana (Sylvirana) scutigera — Ohler, 2003, Alytes, 21: 100–102, by implication.

Hylarana scutigera — Chen, Murphy, Lathrop, Ngo, Orlov, Ho, and Somorjai, 2005, Herpetol. J., 15: 237, by implication; Che, Pang, Zhao, Wu, Zhao, and Zhang, 2007, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 43: 3; by implication.

Sylvirana scutigera — 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: 370, by implication.

Chalcorana scutigera — Fei, Ye, and Jiang, 2010, Herpetol. Sinica, 12: 33; Oliver, Prendini, Kraus, and Raxworthy, 2015, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 90: 187 (provisional arrangement). 

Polypedates (Polypedates) megacephalus — Mahony, Kamei, Brown, and Chan, 2024, Vert. Zool., Senckenberg, 74: 256, by implication.

English Names

Hong Kong Whipping Frog (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 113; Li, Zhao, and Dong, 2010, Amph. Rept. Tibet: 66).

Spot-legged Treefrog (Fei, 1999, Atlas Amph. China: 272; Li, Zhao, and Dong, 2010, Amph. Rept. Tibet: 66).

Hour-glass-marked Treefrog (Mathew and Sen, 2010, Pict. Guide Amph. NE India: 106).

White-lipped Treefrog (Zug and Mulcahy, 2020 "2019", Amph. Rept. S. Tanintharyi: 62).

Haut Sanuk Frog (Rana scutigera [no longer recognized]: Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 109).

Yellow Tree Frog  (Rana scutigera [no longer recognized]: Nutphund, 2001, Amph. Thailand: 125).

Northern Tree Frog (Niyomwan, Srisom, and Pawangkhanant, 2019, Field Guide Amph. Thailand: 428).

Big-headed Treefrog (Zug, 2022, Smithson. Contrib. Zool., 653: 43).

Hourglass Whipping Frog (Dinesh, Radhakrishnan, Deepak, and Kulkarni, 2023, Fauna India Checklist, vers. 5.0 : 12).


Subtropical and tropical China (excluding Taiwan), including Hainan, Hong Kong, Guangxi, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, and as far west as eastern (Medog) Xizang, China, and Nagaland and Meghalaya, northeastern India (although these records may rest on misidentified Polypedates braueri or Polypedates teraiensis and have not been genetically confirmed);Vietnam (Ca Mau, Cao Bang, Vinh Phuc, Hai Duong, Hai Phong, Thua Thien-Hue, Tinh Ha, and Kon Tum provinces); Thailand except for the far northeast (Trat, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Roi Et, Nong Kai, Phetchaburi, Chanthaburi, Phrae, Chiang Mai, Nakorn Ratchasima, and Kanchanabur provinces); Laos (Vientiane and Khammouan provinces); South Tanintharyi, peninsular Myanmar and Kachin and Shan of the north of Myanmar; a curious, but genetically confirmed locality from Sri Lanka.

Geographic Occurrence

Natural Resident: China, People's Republic of, Hong Kong, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam


Caution should be employed the use of literature that is not based on genetically-confirmed identifications, due to the historic confusion with other members of the Polypedates leucomystax complex. With reference to the status of Rana scutigera, see accounts by Bourret, 1942, Batr. Indochine: 370–371 (as Rana scutigera); and Taylor, 1962, Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull., 43: 471–473 (who suggested that his Rana scutigera taxon might actually be synonymous with Rhacophorus leucomystax, sensu lato). Resurrected from the synonymy of Rhacophorus leucomystax by Matsui, Seto, and Utsunomiya, 1986, J. Herpetol., 20: 483–489, although they focused on the population from Taiwan as Polypedates megacephalus, although it was subsequently transferred to Polypedates braueri. This resurrection apparently not noted by Brown and Alcala, 1994, Proc. California Acad. Sci., Ser. 4, 48: 203. Heyer, 1971, Fieldiana, Zool., 58: 61–82, reported on a call from Thailand, identified as Polypedates leucomystax but based on geography, likely applies to Polypedates megacephalus. Karsen, Lau, and Bogadek, 1986, Hong Kong Amph. Rept.: 31, provided a brief account for Hong Kong (as Polypedates leucomystax). Discussed (as Rhacophorus leucomystax megacephalus) by Dubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 81. See also brief account by Zhao and Yang, 1997, Amph. Rept. Hengduan Mountains Region: 123–124. Fei, 1999, Atlas Amph. China: 272–274, provided a brief account, figure, and map for the Chinese range. See comments by Inger, Orlov, and Darevsky, 1999, Fieldiana, Zool., N.S., 92: 25–26, who discussed the problem of diagnosis and identification of sympatric nominal Rhacophorus leucomystax and Rhacophorus megacephalus in Vietnam. See Orlov, Lathrop, Murphy, and Ho, 2001, Russ. J. Herpetol., 8: 36, for brief account of Vietnam population. Fei and Ye, 2001, Color Handbook Amph. Sichuan: 211, provided a brief account and illustration (as Rhacophorus megacephalus). Nutphund, 2001, Amph. Thailand: 125, provided a brief characterization and photograph of Rana (Sylvirana) scutigera, which Ohler, 2003, Alytes, 21: 100–102, suggested was only allocated confidently to some species of the subgenus Sylvirana, not PolypedatesOrlov, Murphy, Ananjeva, Ryabov, and Ho, 2002, Russ. J. Herpetol., 9: 96, commented on the distribution. Song, Jang, Zou, and Shi, 2002, Herpetol. Sinica, 9: 71, reported this species from Hainan, China. Ao, Bordoloi, and Ohler, 2003, Zoos' Print J., 18: 1117–1125, provided a specific locality for Nagaland, northeastern India, although this needs to be confirmed with genetic data due to possible confusion with other members of the complex. Nguyen, Ho, and Nguyen, 2005, Checklist Amph. Rept. Vietnam: 36, provided specific localities for Vietnam. Zhao, Rao, Lü, and Dong, 2005, Sichuan J. Zool., 24: 252, provided a brief note on specimens from Medog County, eastern Xizang, China. Christy, Clark, Gee, Vice, Vice, Warner, Tyrrell, Rodda, and Savidge, 2007, Pacific Sci., 61: 469–483, reported reproducing populations on Guam (see comment under Polypedates braueri, with which this was likely confused). Li, Che, Bain, Zhao, and Zhang, 2008, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 48: 302–312, suggested on the basis of molecular evidence that at least two species in mainland China exist under this one name. Yu, Rao, Yang, and Zhang, 2008, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 153: 733–749, refined this to show that nominal Rhacophorus leucomystax is more than one species and nominal Rhacophorus megacephalus is also more than one species. Fei, Hu, Ye, and Huang, 2009, Fauna Sinica, Amph. 2: 753–760, provided an account and a spot map for China. Sen and Mathew, 2009, Rec. Zool. Surv. India, Occas. Pap., 285: 128, provided a record for Nagaland, northeastern India, although this requires genetic confirmation. Mathew and Sen, 2010, Pict. Guide Amph. NE India: 106, provided a brief characterization and a photograph, although these records require genetic confirmation. Fei, Ye, and Jiang, 2010, Colored Atlas of Chinese Amph.: 446–447, provided a brief account for China including photographs of specimens and habitat. Lü, Pang, Yang, and Zhang, 2010, Asian Herpetol. Res., Ser. 2, 1: 86–89, suggested on the basis of mtDNA evidence that color pattern was insufficient to separate Polypedates megacephalus and Polypedates leucomystax and that populations in southern Yunnan share mtDNA characteristics with Polypedates leucomystax rather than Polypedates megacephalusLi, Zhao, and Dong, 2010, Amph. Rept. Tibet: 66–68, provided an account for Xizang, China. Shi, 2011, Amph. Rept. Fauna Hainan: 69–72, provided an account for Hainan. Kuraishi, Matsui, Hamidy, Belabut, Ahmad, Panha, Sudin, Yong, Jiang, Ota, Thong, and Nishikawa, 2013, Zool. Scripta, 42: 54–70, addressed the molecular phylogenetics of the Polypedates leucomystax complex and provided a number of genetically confirmed localities. Fei, Ye, and Jiang, 2012, Colored Atlas Chinese Amph. Distr.: 527–529, provided an account, photographs, and a range map for China. Hecht, Pham, Nguyen, Nguyen, Bonkowski, and Ziegler, 2013, Biodiversity J., 4: 507–552, reported a record from Tay Yen Tu Nature Reserve, Bac Giang Province, northeastern Vietnam and discussed the range. Pan, Dang, Wang, Zheng, Rao, and Li, 2013, Asian Herpetol. Res., 4: 124–133, provided a phylogeny reconstruction of the Polypedates leucomystax complex that addressed this species, including providing a number of genetically confirmed localities, including a curious record from Sri Lanka.  See account, photograph, and map for Vietnam in Vassilieva, Galoyan, Poyarkov, and Geissler, 2016, Photograph. Field Guide Amph. Rept. Lowland S. Vietnam: 115–117. Subba, Aravind, and Ravikanth, 2016, Check List, 13(1: 2033): 12, considered the presence of this species in Sikkim, India, to be doubtful. Pham, An, Herbst, Bonkowski, Ziegler, and Nguyen, 2017, Bonn Zool. Bull., 66: 37–53, provided records for Cao Bang Province, Vietnam, along with observations on morphology and natural history. Poyarkov, Nguyen, Duong, Gorin, and Yang, 2018, PeerJ, 6 (e5771): 17, provided a record for Cat Ba National Park, Hai Phong Province, Vietnam. Shen, 2014, Fauna Hunan, Amph.: 312–315, provided an account for Hunan, China.

Guo, Yang, and Li, 2009, Colored Illust. Amph. Rept. Taiwan: 112–113, provided a brief account, photographs, and map. Li, 2011, Amph. Rept. Guangdong: 69, provided a brief account for Guangdong, China, and photograph. Zhang, 2017, Amph. Rept. Fanjing Mts.: 161–165, provided taxonomic and natural history information for the Fanjing Mountains population in northeastern Guizhou, China. Niyomwan, Srisom, and Pawangkhanant, 2019, Field Guide Amph. Thailand: 428–429, provided a brief account (description, photographs, habitat, and range) for Thailand (in Thai). Liu, Wang, Zhai, and Wang, 2019 "2018", Asian Herpetol. Res., 9: 240–249, reported on call characteristics. Huang, Liu, Li, Luo, Ni, Yao, Xu, Zeng, Li, Wei, Li, and Zhang, 2019, PeerJ, 7(e74150): 1–20, reported on the complete mitogenome. Rahman, Chen, Wu, Chen, Lwin, Murphy, Li, and Che, 2020, Zootaxa, 4742: 531–541, provided records for Laos, Thailand, China, and Vietnam. Buddhachat and Suwannapoom, 2018, PeerJ, 6 (e4263): 1–13, discussed the molecular evidence for at least five lineages/species in Thailand of the Polypedates leucomystax complex, of which only the northeastern-most population was identified as Polypedates leucomystax, while from the northern part of the peninsula to the Myanmar and Laos border regions were identified as Polypedates megacephalus. Zug and Mulcahy, 2020 "2019", Amph. Rept. S. Tanintharyi: 62–63, provided a brief account for South Tanintharyi, peninsular Myanmar. Poyarkov, Solovyeva, Nguyen, and Geissler, 2020, Zootaxa, 4834: 502–522, discussed the synonymy of Rana scutigera as well as the itinerary of the collector. Poyarkov, Nguyen, Popov, Geissler, Pawangkhanant, Neang, Suwannapoom, and Orlov, 2021, Russ. J. Herpetol., 28 (3A): 59, included Polypedates megacephalus as a member of the Taiwan fauna, but this population was previously transferred to Polypedates braueri (see that record); similarly the population reported from Japan is currently identified as Polypedates leucomystax according to Yuan, Deng, Jiang, Klaus, Orlov, Yang, and Li, 2021, Zool. Res., Kunming, 42: supplemental data. Poyarkov et al. (2021) also included Cambodia within the range of Polypedates megacephalus without reference to publications or vouchers. This is likely correct, but should be confirmed. Zug, 2022, Smithson. Contrib. Zool., 653: 43–44, briefly discussed habitat, range, and identification in Myanmar. Ngo, Nguyen, Phan, Nguyen, and Ziegler, 2022, Biodiversity J., 13: 3–17, reported the species from Ca Mau Province, southernmost Vietnam. Tu, Zhao, Murphy, Zhai, and Wang, 2022, Russ. J. Herpetol., 29: 137–148, reported on a densely-sampled phylogeography study on Hainan I., China. Ziegler, Ong, Hoang, Pham, and Nguyen, 2022, Acad. J. Biol., 44: 114, referred their earlier record of Polypedates leucomystax (Ziegler, 2002, Amph. Rept. Tieflandfeuchtwald–Schutzgebietes Vietnam: 1–342) from Ke Go Nature Reserve, Ha Tinh Province, Vietnam, to Polypedates megacephalusRaj, Vasudevan, Aggarwal, Dutta, Sahoo, Mahapatra, Sharma, Janani, Kar, and Dubois, 2023, Alytes, 39–40: 113–116, reported on larval morphology of genetically-confirmed specimens (as Polypedates cf. megacephalus) from Meghalaya, India.

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