Vampire Flying Frog
Species Description: Rowley JJL, Duong LTT, Dao, TTA, Stuart BL, Huy HD 2010. A new tree frog of the genus Rhacophorus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from southern Vietnam. Zootaxa 2727: 45-55.
© 2012 Jodi J. L. Rowley (1 of 8)
Rhacophorus vampyrus has several morphological features that distinguish it from other Rhacophorid species in the Southeast Asia region. This species has a pale tan to brick red dorsum, white throat, chest and belly, the flanks, anterior and posterior surface of thighs are mostly black, grey to black webbing between the fingers and toes, reduced finger webbing and pointed projections at the tibiotarsal articulations. The most notable attribute that sets this species apart is the unique morphology of the tadpole mouthparts, which bear a pair of keratinized hooks, resembling “fangs”, unseen in any other frog species to date (Rowley et al. 2010).
The dorsal surface of Rhacophorus vampyrus is pale copper-brown with faint darker brown mottling along the back of the frog. The dorsolateral surfaces contain very small, sparse, white and darker brown flecks. The dorsal surface of the lower arms, thigh and tibiotarsus are copper-brown with widespread darker brown barring. The dorsal surface of the hands and feet are copper-brown proximally, fading distally to pinkish-cream on the fingers and toes I-II, and grey on fingers III-IV and toes III-V. There is dark grey to black webbing dorsally. The flanks, upper arms, ventral surface of lower arms, anterior and posterior surface of thighs, and ventral surface of crus are black, and there are small irregular white spots within the black coloration on the flanks and upper arms. The ventral surface of the throat, chest and belly are immaculately white except for black mottling extending slightly onto the lateral margins of the chest at the axilla. The ventral surfaces of the toes and fingers are pale grey. The ventral surface of the webbing is grey with dark grey-black margins. The dorsal coloration of this species varies from pale tan (diurnally) to brick red (nocturnally). The iris is pale yellowish gold with a network of fine dark gold reticulations concentrated around the pupil. The color of this species in preservative is the same as in life, but with the dorsum fading to pale tan (Rowley et al. 2010).
Rhacophorus vampyrus tadpoles are 32.8 mm in total length at stage 35 of development. They have an elongate, depressed body, with a tail length that is about 3 times that of the body length, and the tail fin is about as tall as the body and contains a slightly pointed tip. The small eyes and nostrils are located dorsally. They have a sinistral spiracle that is only visible ventrally and they have a long, narrow, medial vent tube. They have a greatly reduced, non-emarginated oral disc, the upper labium is reduced to one large papilla-like structure on each side, and the upper jaw sheath bears a few huge, widely spaced, hook-shaped serrations that face backwards into the buccal cavity. A lower jaw sheath is absent and two large forward facing, keratinized hooks resembling “fangs” which are bordered laterally by two fleshy papillae on the margin of a reduced lower labium. Current evidence supports that these tadpoles are oophagous and it is hypothesized that these hooks assist in slicing open unfertilized eggs prior to consumption. The morphology of the tadpole gills is currently unknown because no tadpoles at an early stage of development have yet been observed. In life the body is uniformly dark brownish grey to medium brown with the tail and fins considerably paler than the body. Preserved tadpoles are uniformly black (Rowley et al. 2012).
Distribution and Habitat
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Trends and Threats
Rowley, J.J.L, Duong, L.T.T, Dao, T. A., Stuart, B.L., Huy, H.D. 2010. A new tree frog of the genus Rhacophorus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from southern Vietnam. Zootaxa 2727: 45-55.
Rowley, J.J.L.,Tran, D.T.A., Le, D.T.T., Hoang, H.D., Altig, R. 2012. The strangest tadpole: the oophagous, tree-hole dwelling tadpole of Rhacophorus vampyrus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Vietnam. Journal of Natural History Vol. 46, Nos. 47-48, 2969-2978.
Originally submitted by: Amanda Radel (first posted 2013-06-19)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2013-08-19)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2013 Rhacophorus vampyrus: Vampire Flying Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/7611> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 14, 2021.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 14 Jun 2021.
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