Latonia nigriventer
Hula Painted Frog, Palestinian Painted Frog
family: Alytidae

© 2011 Sarig Gafny (1 of 4)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Critically Endangered (CR)
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


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*** Note: Biton et al. (2013) recently proposed that Discoglossus nigriventer is part of a genus previously thought to be extinct and thus should be re-named Latonia nigriventer. Please see "Comments" for more information.

A medium-sized frog (ca. 40 mm in length), Discoglossus nigriventer has a dark belly (as its name implies) with small white spots. The dorsal pattern is ochre and rust colored patches grading into dark olive-grey to greyish-black. D. nigriventer differs from D. pictus in having a greater interocular distance, longer forelimbs, and a less projecting snout. For a more extensive description see Mendelssohn and Steinitz (1943).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Israel


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This species was known from the Hula wetlands in northern Israel although it may have been present in similar adjacent habitats in Syria. The wetlands of Lake Hula were drained for mainly agricultural purposes in the 1950's. Although an area of 320 ha was set aside as a nature reserve, this did not prevent the extinction of certain endemic species, among which it has been presumed to include D. nigriventer as several subsequent extensive surveys in the 80's and 90's found no D. nigriventer (Werner 1988, Papenfuss et al 2011).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
There is no information on the life history of this species.

Trends and Threats
This species had been thought to be extinct due to the draining of its wetland habitat.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Drainage of habitat

Of this species only two specimens exist: one type specimen, collected by Mendelssohn in 1940 (Mendelssohn and Steinitz 1943), and one collected by Steinitz in 1955 (Werner 1988). The two tadpole paratypes have been lost.

Since the single adult specimen collected in 1955, Discoglossus nigriventer has not been seen until November 15, 2011, four decades later by a Park Ranger, who was unsure of the identity of the adult frog (Boaz Shacham, Its identification has been since confirmed and will certainly renew interest in its conservation.

Recent genetic and morphological (fossil comparisons to CT scans of Hula Frogs specimens) evidence have shown that this species diverged from the genus Discoglossus around 32 million years ago and instead should be included in the once thought extinct genus, Latonia. All other Latonia species are thought to have gone extinct during the Pleistocene, 15,000 years ago. This discovery provides a remarkable example of the potential resilience of amphibians in the face of habitat change (Biton et al. 2013).

Featured in Amazing Amphibians on 24 June 2013


Biton, R., Geffen, E., Vences, M., Cohen, O., Bailon, S., Rabinovich, R., Malka, Y., Oron, T., Boistel, R., Brumfeld, V., Gafny, S. (2013). ''The rediscovered Hula painted frog is a living fossil.'' Nature Communications, 4(1959), 1-6.

Mendelssohn, H. and Steinitz, H. (1943). ''A new frog from Palestine.'' Copeia, 4, 231-233.

Papenfuss T., Disi A., Anderson S., Kuzmin S., Gasith A., Sadek R.A., Werner Y. 2004. Discoglossus nigriventer. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. . Downloaded on 25 November 2011.

Werner, Y. L. (1988). ''Herpetofaunal survey of Israel (1950-85), with comments on Sinai and Jordan and on zoogeographic heterogeneity.'' The Zoogeography of Israel. Y. Yom-Tov and E. Chernov, eds., Junk, Dordrecht, 355-388.

Written by Ann T. Chang (updated 2013-06-24); Arie van der Meijden. (amphibia AT, UC Berkeley
First submitted 1999-09-15
Edited by Michelle S. Koo, Kellie Whittaker; updated by Ann T. Chang (2014-02-20)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2014 Latonia nigriventer: Hula Painted Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 17, 2017.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 17 Oct 2017.

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