M 40-48 mm, F 43-48 mm. Tympanum indistinct. Tibiotarsal articulation reaches insertion of forelimb or tympanum. Tips of fingers and toes strongly enlarged. Skin very granular with several dermal spines especially above forelimb insertion. Dorsally green with symmetrical darker markings. Ventrally usually lacking contrasted marbling, especially on the belly, usually dark on throat and chest (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Similar species: Especially S. marmorata and S. boribory which are broadly sympatric with S. spinosa. S. marmorata is smaller, lacks spiny tubercles (especially above forelimb insertion) and has a number of symmetrical elongated tubercles in the shoulder region on an otherwise rather smooth skin. S. boribory is larger, lacks spiny tubercles, and has a distinctly marbled ventral pattern (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar
Occurs in Ambana, Ambatolahy, Ambatovaky, Ampasy, An’Ala, Andringitra (Sahavatoy river), Ankeniheny, Ankopakopaka forest, Foizana, Moramanga, Ranomena (Ranomafana), Vatoharanana (Glaw and Vences 2007) from 100 to 1100 m asl (Vallan et. al 2008). Habitat ranges from pristine rainforest to degraded forest; found in swampy forest and at forest edges, on the forest floor (Vallan et al. 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Habits: Known from rainforest areas, where single specimens can occasionally be found moving on the forest floor. Reproduces in temporary pools or flooded marshes near forest, probably in a very explosive way and only once or a few times every rainy season. Choruses can be heard at night and sometimes also during the day. A large number of small eggs are laid, as assessed by dissection of preserved females (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Calls: A long lasting fast series of very short melodious notes, similar to other species of Scaphiophryne (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Trends and Threats
Patchy occurrence, can be locally common when breeding (Vallan et al. 2008). Though it occurs in many protected areas, its forest habitat is being lost due to subsistence agriculture, logging, charcoal manufacture, invasion and spread of eucalyptus, grazing and expanding human settlement (Vallan 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
Taken with permission from Glaw and Vences (2007).
Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
Vallan, D., Cadle, J., and Glaw, F. (2008). Scaphiophryne spinosa. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 08 April 2009.
Written by Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (m.vences AT tu-bs.de), Assistant Professor and Curator of Vertebrates at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Zoological Museum at the University of Amsterdam
First submitted 2009-04-08
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2017-01-19)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2017 Scaphiophryne spinosa <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/6573> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Nov 24, 2020.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2020. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 24 Nov 2020.
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