Melanobatrachus indicus Beddome, 1878
Black Microhylid Frog
© 2013 Benjamin Tapley ZSL (1 of 3)
The skin on the dorsum of the head and body, and on the hind limbs are covered in tubercles. The arms, flanks, and ventrum are smooth (Beddome 1878, Daltry and Martin 1997).
The fingers are unwebbed and not dilated at the tips. The third finger is twice the length as the other fingers. The fourth finger is short. The hind limbs are about the same length as the snout-vent length with the thigh being shorter than the shank. The cylindrical toes have basal webbing and are undilated at the tips. The fourth toe is much longer than the third (Beddome 1878, Daltry and Martin 1997).
From Duttaphrynus melanostictus, M. indicus can be differentiated by the prominent vertebral ridge in the former that is not found in the latter (Beddome 1878).
In life, the dorsum is black with small white dots. The ventrum sometimes has a few scarlet blotches on the anterior region of chest that can extend to the upper arms and humerus. There are larger white dots on the belly. There is a broad scarlet band across the ventral surface of its thighs near to the groin area that can completely encircle the thighs (Beddome 1878, Daltry and Martin 1997). The aposematic coloration of the belly and limbs remain largely hidden when the species exhibits anti-predator, contraction behavior (Kanagavel & Tapley 2013).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: India
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
When the animal is threatened, it retracts its limbs and arches its back in a form of defensive behavior, known as “contraction”. The main function of this behavior is thought to be to prevent injury during handling and ingestion by predators (Kanagvel and Tapley 2013).
Trends and Threats
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Melanobatrachus indicus is the only known species in the family Melanobatrachinae. Its sister family is Asterophryninae (Vitt and Caldwell 2014).
Beddome, R. H. (1878). ''Description of a new batrachian from southern India, belonging to the family Phryniscidae.'' Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1878(3), 722-723. [link]
Biju, S.D., Vasudevan, K., Bhuddhe, G.D., Dutta, S., Srinivasulu, C., Vijayakumar, S.P. (2004). “Melanobatrachus indicus”. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T13032A3406563. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2004.RLTS.T13032A3406563.en. Downloaded on 02 May 2019.
Daltry, J.C., Martin, G. (1997). ''Rediscovery of the black narrow-mouth frog Melanobatrachus indicus Beddome, 1878.'' Hamadryad , 22, 57-58.
Kanagavel, A., Tapley, B. (2013). ''Defensive behaviour of Melanobatrachus indicus (Anura: Microhylidae) in the Western Ghats, India.'' Herpetology notes, 6, 607-608. [link]
Vitt, L.J., Caldwell, J. P. (2014). Herpetology: An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles (4th ed.). Academic Press, Elsevier, San Diego, CA.
Originally submitted by: Mikel Busto Gonzalez and Ann T. Chang (first posted 2019-05-08)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2019 Melanobatrachus indicus: Black Microhylid Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/2229> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 29, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 29 May 2023.
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