AmphibiaWeb - Nanorana zhaoermii


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Nanorana zhaoermii Qi, Zhou, Lu & Li, 2019
Lhünzë Spiny Frog, Chinese: lóng zǐ jí wā” (隆子棘蛙)
family: Dicroglossidae
subfamily: Dicroglossinae
genus: Nanorana
Species Description: Qi S, Zhou Z-Y, Lu Y-Y, Li J-L, Qin H-H, Hou M, Zhang Y, Ma J-Z, Li P-P . 2019 . A New Species of Nanorana (Anura: Dicroglossidae) from Southern Tibet, China. Russian Journal of Herpetology 26:159-174.

AmphibiaChina 中国两栖类.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.


Nanorana zhaoermii is a medium-sized frog in its genus that has a snout-vent length that ranges from 63.8 - 75.4 mm in males and 65.0 - 72.1 mm in females. It has a flat, broad head with a bluntly rounded snout that appears to slightly overhang over the lower jaw. The canthus rostralis region is largely angled. The internasal distance is larger than the interorbital distances. The eyes are large with ellipse pupils. The species has distinct vomerine teeth and two short oblique teeth that are located between internal nares that converge posteriorly. The teeth ridges of N. zhaoermii are longer than the space between them. The tongue is large with a heart-shaped ridge in the posterior view. Nanorana zhaoermii have small tympana with an indistinct margin. This species has a supratympanic fold that extends from the eye to the shoulder. The species has internal vocal sacs. The robust forelimbs are short. The holotype has a relative finger length of I < II < IV < III. There is a nuptial pad prominent on the first finger with conical spines. The subarticular tubercles are rounded and distinct. Supernumerary tubercles are absent. The fingertips are rounded and free. The fingertips are not dilated and have no webbing, lateral fringe, or circummarginate and lateroventral grooves. The inner metacarpal tubercle at the base of finger I is enlarged, rounded, and with many conical spines. The outer metacarpal tubercle is divided and elongated and divided. The dorsal surfaces of fingers I and II and the inner side of finger III have nuptial spines. The hindlimbs are long and stout. The articulation of the tibio-tarsal can reach the nostril when adpressed to the body. When the hindlimbs are folded at right angles to the body, the heels meet each limb. The relative toe length is: I < II < V < III < IV. The toes of the species are webbed and intercurved between the toe tips, which are rounded and non-dilated. Lateral fringes are found on toe IV, with the circummarginal, lateroventral groove, and tarsal fold being absent. The toe webbing formula is: I 0 – 0 II 0 – 1/2 III 0 – 1+ IV 1+ – 0 V. The distinct subarticular tubercles are ovular, and the inner metatarsal tubercles are distinct, but elongated. The outer metatarsal tubercles are not present (Qi et al. 2019).

The skin on the dorsum of N. zhaoermii is rough and scattered with small warts and granules. Some warts are elongated and align into longitudinal rows. There are various keratinized spines located laterally on the mandibular articulation and temporal regions. The ventral surface of the species is smooth, while the chest has two transverse spine groups with an average of around 53 conical spines (Qi et al. 2019).

Nanorana zhaoermii distinguish themselves from other congeners by having a medium-sized body with a snout-vent length of 63.8 - 75.4 mm in males and 65.0 - 72.1 mm in females. This species has distinct hypertrophied forelimbs with large, conical nuptial spines on the dorsal side of digits I and II and in the inner side of digit III. Males are characterized by two ventral clusters of roughly 50 keratinized spines on the chest. The hindlimbs are long and thick-bodied (Qi et al. 2019).

The following characters distinguish N. zhaoermii from its many congeners. Nanorana zhaoermii has large conical-shaped nuptial spines, distinguishing it from N. parkeri, N. pleskei, and N. ventripunctata, which possess small, compact nuptial spines. Additionally, N. zhaoermii lacks a dorsolateral fold, which is found on N. aenea, N. gammii, N. polunini, N. rostandi, and N. unculuanus. Nanorana zhaoermii lacks keratinized spines on the inner side of its forelimbs, which differs from N. annandalii, N. liegbigii, N. rarica, which do. Nanorana zhaoermii has a distinct dorsal pattern, while N. arnoldi has a reticular pattern. The lack of keratinized spines on the dorsal warts of N. zhaoermii differs it from N. chayuensis, which has dorsal warts with keratinized spines. The presence of nuptial spines on the chest of the N. zhaoermii differentiates it from N. kangxianensis, N. quadranus, and N. taihangnica. The absence of a tarsal fold distinguishes N. zhaoermii from N. phrynoides, N. sichuanensis, and N. yunnanensis. Nanorana zhaoermii has a larger body size than N. minica and has black, keratinized spines as opposed to white, non-keratinized spines found in the latter. There are keratinized spines present on the sides of fingers I, II, and III that distinguish N. zhaoermii from N. ercepeae, which only have spines on fingers I and II. Relatively, Nanorana zhaoermii has more warts and granules over its whole dorsum, than N. blanfordii, N. conaensis, and N. vicina. Additionally, Nanorana zhaoermii lacks a white-edged dark ocellus located at the hip-joint, which differentiates it from N. feae. The larger snout to nostril distance than the eye to nostril distance is a feature of N. zhaoermii that differs it from N. maculosa. Nanorana zhaoermii has a grass-green colored dorsum, while N. medogensis has a yellowish or dark brown dorsum. In preservative, the smaller body size and general color pattern of N. zhaoermii differentiates it from N. mokochungensis (Qi et al. 2019).

In life, the holotype’s dorsum is a dark greenish olive color with large dark brown spots. There is a large dark brown band found on the back of the head that extends to the posterior edge of the eyelids. There is also a dark brown band that reaches the eye from the tip of the snout. The mandibular articulation and temporal region has larger light yellow warts. The limbs have 5 - 10 brown-colored bands. Females possess lighter spots and bands than males as well as yellow-brown stripes down the lateral sides of the body. Ventral coloration of the body and limbs are a pale pinkish- purple with grey flecks around the lateral side of jaw, throat, and chest. The palms and soles are a darker purplish grey than the inner, outer and metacarpal tubercules, which are slightly lighter. The pupils are black and the iris is a pale, yellowish-green color with a faint triangular pattern at the top and bottom (Qi et al. 2019).

In preservative, the dorsal background color fades to blue-grey, and the spotting and banding becomes more conspicuous (Qi et al. 2019).

In life, the larva have a dark brown-mahogany body with a lighter tail. Additionally, the body and tail are covered by a few white and brownish snowflake shaped black spots all grouped together. The fins are transparent with a few melanophores and the venter is slightly transparent. The iris is a pale yellowish-green color. The lateral sides of the tail muscle have some continuous and intermittent dark black patches (Qi et al. 2019).

In preservative, the larva have a faded brownish-mahogany coloration of the dorsum and tail (Qi et al. 2019).

Most mature adult specimens were similar in morphology and color pattern, showing no notable variation. Between the sexes, no meaningful difference in the snout-vent length was observed. Male N. zhaoermii differ from females, by having hypertrophied upper and lower arms, with pairs of nuptial spines located in the pectoral region, dorsal side fingers I and II, inner side of finger III. Males have no spines on the forelimbs, while females do (Qi et al. 2019).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: China


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Nanorana zhaoermii has only been documented at the type locality in Lhünzê County, Tibet, China. It is a high-altitude species that occupies streams and other moving bodies of water located within moist forests and grasslands at an elevational range of 2700 - 3400 m (Qi et al. 2019).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

All adult specimens of N. zhaoermii were collected at night (Qi et al. 2019).

Nanorana zhaoermii tadpoles can be located at the bottom of slower-flowing streams, ditches, and other running bodies of water (Qi et al. 2019).


An analysis of 12S and 16S sequences using Bayesian Inference placed N. zhaoermii within the Nanorana subgenus Paa. Within Paa it is sister to a clade consisting of N. maculosa, N. chayuensis, and N. medogensis (Qi et al. 2019).

This species is named in honor of the Chinese herpetologist Dr. Zhao Er-Mi for his contributions to herpetological research within China. Based on the type locality, the species is given the common name of ​​“Lhünzë Spiny Frog” and a Chinese formal name of “lóng zǐ jí wā” (隆子棘蛙) (Qi et al. 2019).


Qi, S., Zhou, Z.-y., Lu, Y.-y., Li, J.-l., Qin, H.-h., Hou, M., Zhang, Y., Ma, J., Li, P.-p. (2019). "A new species of Nanorana (Anura: Dicroglossidae) from Southern Tibet, China." Russian Journal of Herpetology, 26(3), 159–174. [link]

Originally submitted by: Tyler Douglas (2021-09-23)
Description by: Tyler Douglas, Arjun Mehta (updated 2021-09-23)
Distribution by: Tyler Douglas (updated 2021-09-23)
Life history by: Tyler Douglas (updated 2021-09-23)
Comments by: Tyler Douglas (updated 2021-09-23)

Edited by: Arjun Mehta, Michelle S. Koo (2022-02-21)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Nanorana zhaoermii: Lhünzë Spiny Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 25, 2023.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 25 Sep 2023.

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