Tomopterna elegans
family: Pyxicephalidae
subfamily: Cacosterninae
Species Description: Zimkus BM, Larson JG 2011 Examination of the molecular relationships of sand frogs (Anura: Pyxicephalidae: Tomopterna) and the resurrection of two species from the Horn of Africa. Zootaxa 2933:27-45.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Somalia


View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.


From the Encyclopedia of Life account:


This species is named for the Latin 'elegans,' which means elegant, fine or handsome.

Author: Zimkus, Breda


This species is known from eastern Somalia.

Author: Zimkus, Breda


The following is a translation of the original description of Arthroleptis (Tomopterna) elegans by E. Calabresi (1927) from the original Italian by B. Zimkus.

The tongue lacks a median papilla. The head is as wide and long with its snout broadly rounded in front and equal to the diameter of the orbit, nostrils closer to the snout tip than the anterior margin of the eye, interorbital space as wide as upper eyelid and tympanum indistinct. In the hand, fingers are moderate and not dilated at the ends, the median subarticular tubercles are significantly protruding, the first finger is very slightly shorter than the second, and more than half of the third. In the foot, the fingers are joined by a membrane for approximately half their length, the subarticular tubercles are
small and conical, there is a single metatarsal tubercle that is oval, protruding and longer than the internal digit, tarsal tubercle lacking. When hind limb is bent forward the tibio-tasal articulation reaches between the armpit and the posterior margin of the eye. The skin is mostly smooth, with rare and minute tubercles in the posterior region of the back, along the hips and below the thighs. The top color is light gray mottled with brown, with white spots and black veins variously distributed. There are particularly strong and consistent a large spots on the head between the eyes, and a few short semi-circular lines that meet at the backside of the head. Both limbs are crossed by wide brown bands in parallel. Ventral parts are uniformly white. Size: length from tip of snout to anal fissure, 19 mm; length of head, 7 mm; width of head, 7 mm; length of snout, 3 mm; eye diameter, 3 mm; interorbital space, 2 mm; forelimb, 10 mm; hind limb, 24 mm; tibia, 7 mm. Four specimens collected in the well of Hongolò (Uadi Hoor). The new species is distinct from several previously described of the genus, and the tympanum is not visible and the absence of tarsal tubercle is enough, in particular, to differ it much from A. boettgi Blgr. as from A. minutus Blgr. representing the only two species previously known in the adjacent regions (Territory of Galla).

The following redescription by Zimkus and Larson (2011) is based on an adult male specimen (CAS 190562) as the type series included only juvenile specimens.

Body shape compact and toad-like; habit stout; vomerine teeth in two oblique groups between the moderately large choanae; tongue notched with two uneven sides; median papilla on the tongue absent; head short, 1.75 times broader than long; snout rounded; canthus rostralis sharply angled; loreal region slightly concave; nostrils closer to the snout tip than the anterior margin of the eye, eye-nostril length almost two times the snout-nostril length; tympanum distinct and circular, measuring less than one-third the maximum eye diameter; interorbital distance much less than the width of the upper eyelid; subarticular tubercles single and distinct; digit tips not expanded; first finger extending beyond basal subarticular tubercle of second; fingers without webbing; relative length of fingers: IV < II < I < III; inner metatarsal tubercle prominent and shovel-shaped, longer than the first toe; small, round outer metatarsal tubercle present; tarsal tubercle absent; toes with one-third webbing, two phalanges free of webbing on the fourth toe; relative length of toes: I < II < V < III < IV. Skin on upper surface smooth, with some small, isolated warts; some tubercles surrounding the vent; discontinuous glandular ridge present below the tympanum, trailing from the back edge of mouth; nuptial pad on manual digit I; skin on throat thickened, making U-shaped gular flap.

In preservative (alcohol), orange-brown with irregular darker markings, except for symmetric pair of curly bracket-like markings encircling a paler occipital blotch; incomplete, dark interorbital bar is present; glandular ridge from the angle of the mouth to forearm is slightly lighter than the surroundings; upper and lower arm, and hand have a dark transversal bar; upper part of flanks colored like the back (darker), lower like the ventrum (lighter); ventrum cream; thighs, lower legs and feet show three, four, and two darker transversal bars, respectively; throat dark in color.

Author: Zimkus, Breda


Snout-vent lengths of specimens examined by Zimkus and Larson (2011) are as follows: males, 38.3–40.5 mm (mean 39.4 mm, n=5); females, 39.9–44.4 mm (mean 42.2 mm, n=2).

Author: Zimkus, Breda

Diagnostic Description

Body shape is compact and toad-like, and the habit is stout. Vomerine teeth are in two oblique groups between the moderately large choanae. Tongue is notched with two uneven sides; head is short and broader than long. Snout is rounded. Nostrils are closer to the snout tip than the anterior margin of the eye. Tympanum is indistinct or distinct, measuring 1/3 to 2/3 as large as the eye diameter. Interorbital distance is less than the width of the upper eyelid. Subarticular tubercles are single and distinct. Toes are one-third webbed with two to three phalanges free of webbing on the fourth toe. The inner metatarsal tubercle is prominent and shovel-shaped, longer than the first toe. A small, round outer metatarsal tubercle is present, while the tarsal tubercle is absent. The skin is smooth with some small, isolated warts. A discontinuous or continuous glandular ridge may be present below the tympanum, trailing from the back edge of mouth. Males with a nuptial pad on manual digit I and sometimes II, as well as a thickened U-shaped gular flap. In alcohol, the color may be light grey, light brown or orange-brown with darker markings. A light vertebral line is variably present. An interorbital bar may be present. Limbs are barred. Males have dark throat, and females may have throat the same as ventrum or slightly mottled (Zimkus and Larson, 2011).

Author: Zimkus, Breda


The single sequence of T. elegans included in the phylogenetic study by Zimkus and Larson (2011) differs from other species in the genus by 2.5% (T. sp. Arusha) to a maximum of 7.7%–7.9% (T. kachowskii).

Author: Zimkus, Breda