AmphibiaWeb - Phrynopus vestigiatus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Phrynopus vestigiatus Lehr & Oróz, 2012
family: Strabomantidae
genus: Phrynopus
Species Description: Lehr E, Oroz A 2012 Two new species of Phrynopus (Anura: Strabomantidae) from the Cordillera de Carpish in central Peru (Departamento de Huanuco). Zootaxa 3512: 53-63.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Phrynopus vestigiatus was described based on a single female specimen with a snout-vent length of 18.8 mm. The male morphology is unknown. Phrynopus vestigiatus has a wide head. The head width was 110% of the head length. The snout is short, rounded from the lateral view and shortened from the dorsal view. The lips are rounded and the tongue is ovoid. The nostrils are slightly protruding and are positioned dorsolaterally. On the posterior end of the upper eyelids there is an enlarged tubercle. The tympanic membrane and tympanic annulus are absent. The supratympanic fold is short and wide, and basically indistinguishable from the tubercles on the skin. The dorsal skin is rough, granulated, and covered with small tubercles. Tubercles also cover the skin on the flanks. Larger tubercles form an X-shaped ridge at the occipitals and a middorsal Y-shaped ridge. The throat is smooth. The dorsolateral fold is prominent, discontinuous and undulated; it extends from the upper eyelid to the sacrum. The fingers have lateral fringes, and finger 2 is longer than finger 1. The finger tips are rounded, slightly pointed and lack marginal grooves. The hind limbs are thin, and the dorsal skin is covered with small tubercles. The toes have lateral fringes, lack webbing, and the tips are rounded and without marginal grooves (Lehr and Oroz 2012).

The most distinguishing features of Phrynopus vestigiatus are the dark brown X- and Y-shaped dorsal ridges formed by large tubercles, the prominent undulated dorsolateral folds, and the distinct red blotches in the groin, resembling a footprint. Three other Phrynopus species are known in the Cordilla de Carpish: P. dagmarae, P. horstpauli and P. interstinctus. Phrynopus dagmarae lacks the dorsal X- and Y-shaped ridges that are present in P. vestigiatus. Phrynopus horstpauli females are much larger than P. vestigiatus females, and the venter is pale grey, with grey/brown blotches. Phrynopus interstinctus has continuous dorsolateral folds, a dorsum lacking ridges, and the venter is black with white blotches; P. vestigiatus has undulated dorsolateral folds and dorsal ridges. Phrynopus vestigiatus shares red, orange, or flesh colored blotches in the groin with seven other Phrynopus species: P. bracki, P. dagmarae, P. heimorum, P. interstinctus, P. nicoleae, P. paucari and P. peruanus, but P. vestigiatus is distinguished from these species by the dorsal X- and Y-shaped ridges, which are not present in any of these species (Lehr and Oroz 2012).

In life, the P. vestigiatus holotype was creamy brown on the dorsal surface, with dark brown specks. The dorsal X- and Y-shaped ridges were dark brown. The dorsal surfaces of the limbs were dark brown. The ventral skin of the back legs are darkened. The groin was dark brown with four distinct red blotches, one larger red blotch below three smaller ones, resembling a track or footprint. The ventral surfaces (throat, chest, stomach) were dark brown with white flecks (Lehr and Oroz 2012).

In preservative, the regions that had creamy brown and red coloring in life were white. Concealed ventral surfaces were dark brown with white blotches (Lehr and Oroz 2012).

Variation in the species is not reported, as the species is described based on a single female specimen (Lehr and Oroz 2012). However, seven more individuals were collected between 2014 - 2015 (IUCN 2020).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Peru

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Frogs of the genus Phrynopus are distributed throughout the Andes Mountains; the geographic ranges of individual species are restricted (Duellman 2000). The holotype of P. vestigiatus was found in moss during the day at 3,100 meters elevation in a humid cloud forest at Cordillera de Carpish in the Andes Mountains of central Peru. The area the P. vestigiatus specimen was discovered was mostly undisturbed, with some nearby logging activity (Lehr and Oroz 2012). Other specimens were later collected from Ruinas de Huanacaure in Huánuco Province, Peru at elevations of 2,996 – 3,100 m asl (IUCN 2020).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Most Phrynopus frog species live in moss or leaf litter on the forest floor, making them difficult to find (Lehr and Oroz 2012).

Much of the life history of P. vestigiatus remains unknown despite the holotype female specimen being gravid when collected (Lehr and Oroz 2012). However, based on the genus' characters, P. vestigiatus is assume to be a terrestrial-breeder (von May et al. 2018).

The species is earless and assumed to have no vocalizations. Their communication mechanism is unknown (von May et al. 2018).

Phrynopus vestigiatus shares its range with P. dagmarae, Cochranella sp., and Rhinella chavin (Lehr and Oroz 2012).

Trends and Threats
Although the authors who describe the species suspect P. vestigiatus is threatened, they did not recommend a threat status due to the lack of data (Lehr and Oroz 2012). The IUCN Red List later listed the species as "Endangered" due to its small area of occurrence and because the areas it is know from are declining in quality and extent of habitat (IUCN 2020). Logging and habitat fragmentation in the Andes Mountains might be a potential threat to this species (Lehr and Oroz 2012, IUCN 2020).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

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


Based on Bayesian Inference on 16S, 12S, COI, RAG1, Tyr genes, P. vestigiatus is most closely related to P. interstinctus. The next most closely related species is P. tribulosus (von May et al. 2018).

The majority of Phrynopus frogs lack the tympanic membrane and tympanic annulus, including P. vestigiatus. The loss of hearing structures and advertisement calls is common in high elevation south American terrestrial breeding frogs (von May et al. 2018).

The species epithet, “vestigiatus” is derived from the Latin noun “vestigium”, meaning “footprint” or “track”. This is reference to the coloration found near the groin of the animal that resembles a red footprint (Lehr and Oroz 2012).


Duellman, W. E. (2000). ''Leptodactylid frogs of the genus Phrynopus in northern Peru with descriptions of three new species.'' Herpetologica, 56(3), 273-285.

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2020. "Phrynopus vestigiatus (amended version of 2017 assessment)." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T78535863A176944953. Downloaded on 15 June 2021.

Lehr, E., Oroz, A. (2012). “Two new species of Phrynopus (Anura: Strabomantidae) from the Cordillera de Carpish in central Peru (Departamento de Huanuco).” Zootaxa, 3512(1): 59-62. [link]

von May, R., Lehr, E., Rabosky, D. L. (2018). “Evolutionary radiation of earless frogs in the Andes: molecular phylogenetics and habitat shifts in high-elevation terrestrial breeding frogs.” PeerJ 6:e4313 [link]

Originally submitted by: Dulce Garcia, Jacob Paskell, Trinity Burnham-Pohlmann (2021-06-14)
Life history by: Dulce Garcia, Jacob Paskell, Trinity Burnham-Pohlmann (updated 2021-06-14)
Trends and threats by: Dulce Garcia, Jacob Paskell, Trinity Burnham-Pohlmann, Ann T. Chang (updated 2021-06-14)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2021-06-14)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Phrynopus vestigiatus <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 21, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 21 Jul 2024.

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