AmphibiaWeb - Bolitoglossa magnifica


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Bolitoglossa magnifica Hanken, Wake & Savage, 2005
Magnificent Web-Footed Salamander
Subgenus: Eladinea
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Bolitoglossa
Species Description: Hanken J, Wake DB and Savage JM 2005 A solution to the large black salamander problem (genus Bolitoglossa) in Costa Rica and Panama. Copeia 2005:227-245

© 2015 Frank Pasmans (1 of 8)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Diagnosis: Bolitoglossa magnifica is a large black salamander from Panama with white flecking on the dorsum and white patches on the dorsal surface of the tail. It is one of the largest species in the genus, with some female specimens exceeding 100 mm. It has a relatively narrow head and can be distinguished from other large black Bolitoglossa as follows: B. robusta has a cream-colored ring at the tail base, more maxillary teeth, and much shorter nasal bones; B. nigrescens is broader across the shoulders (SL of 7.8x shoulder width in B. nigrescens vs. SL of 9.6x shoulder width in B. magnifica) and has longer limbs and more maxillary and vomerine teeth (on average); B. sombra is smaller-sized and has more maxillary and vomerine teeth; B. obscura has considerably fewer maxillary and vomerine teeth; B. anthracina has a higher number of maxillary and vomerine teeth; B. copia has more foot webbing and also has white coloration along the throat and jaws (Hanken et al. 2005).

Description: Adult males average 58.6 mm (range 50.9 to 69.6 mm) in SVL, while adult females are much larger and average 90.1 mm (range 61.5 to 104.0 mm) in SVL. Tail length does not exceed SVL; the SVL/TL ratio is about 1.17 in both males and females. The head is narrow. Skin on the dorsal surface of the head is rugose. Snout is broadly rounded to somewhat truncated. Nostrils and eyes are small. The eyes do not protrude beyond the jaw margins in dorsal view. Nasolabial protuberances are inconspicuous in females and poorly developed in males. Mental glands in males are inconspicuous and oval-shaped with scattered residual dermal melanophores surrounding the lightly pigmented mental gland. A postiliac gland is visible, marked by a pale spot. Males have 2-3 premaxillary teeth (which are small but protrude anteriorly through the upper lip), 25-35 maxillary teeth and 17-21 vomerine teeth. Females have 2-5 premaxillary teeth, 25-58 maxillary teeth, and 26-32 vomerine teeth. The limbs are long, especially in males; males show a mean limb interval of 1.8 (range 1.5-2.5) while females have a mean limb interval of 3.1 (range 2.5-3.5). Hands and feet are large, with bluntly pointed digital tips. The length of fingers in decreasing order is 3>2>4>1; order of toes is 3>4>2>5>1. Webbing is present, but is more extensive in juveniles; in adults, two or more phalanges of the longest digits are free of webbing. All digits have strongly developed subterminal pads (Hanken et al. 2005).

In life, larger individuals of this species are entirely black, except for a few that have faint pale indistinct markings on the sides of the tail. Smaller specimens are black to charcoal gray with fine white dots speckled all over and more conspicuous white or silver blotches on the tail. In males, the mental gland is lightly pigmented. A large, pale spot marks the postiliac gland (Hanken et al. 2005).

In preservative, this salamander is black, with obscure, pale patches near the tail and on the tail, along with a few indistinct pale patches ventrolaterally. The gular region and jaw margins are slightly lighter. Soles are noticeably lighter. The iris is blackish-brown (Hanken et al. 2005).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Panama


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Bolitoglossa magnifica is known from five different sites on the Pacific slopes of the southern Cordillera de Talamanca-Barú Massif in southwestern Panama, between Cerro Punta and Boquete, Chiriquí Province. This species occupies tropical premontane and lower montane rainforest at elevations ranging from 1,250 to 2,450 m asl. Specimens were collected in oak forest covered in moss and small bromeliads. They were found under logs, planks, inside rotting stumps, or under small rocks (Hanken et al. 2005).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species is presumed to breed by direct development (Stuart et al. 2008).

Trends and Threats
When it was first described (Hanken et al 2005), this species had not been observed or collected in over 30 years. Although it continues to be rare, observations are localized. Chytridiomycosis has been associated with declines of other species to the north and west. Habitat loss may also be affecting this species; the forest connecting Volcán Barú to La Amistad is mostly privately owned by farmers, and is subject to road development and fires. Its range overlaps with Parque Nacional Volcán Barú (Stuart et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing

First described by Hanken et al. (2005). The specific name magnifica derives from the Latin magnus ("great") and magnifica ("splendid"), referring to the large size and beautiful appearance of this species (Hanken et al. 2005).


Hanken, J. Wake, D. B., and Savage, J. M. (2005). ''A solution to the large black salamander problem (genus Bolitoglossa) in Costa Rica and Panamá.'' Copeia, 2005(2), 227-245.

Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Originally submitted by: Christine Lu (first posted 2009-10-22)
Trends and threats by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2023-04-29)
Comments by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2023-04-29)

Edited by: Kellie Whittaker, Michelle S. Koo (2023-04-29)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Bolitoglossa magnifica: Magnificent Web-Footed Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 4, 2023.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 4 Oct 2023.

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