AmphibiaWeb - Pseudoeurycea papenfussi


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Pseudoeurycea papenfussi Parra-Olea, García-París, Hanken & Wake, 2005
Muscular Salamander, Salamandra Escaladora
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Pseudoeurycea
Species Description: Parra-Olea G, Garcia-Paris M, Hanken J, Wake DB 2005 Two new species of Pseudoeurycea (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from the moutains of northern Oaxaca, Mexico. Copeia 2005:461-469

© 2023 Wouter Beukema (1 of 2)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Pseudoeurycea papenfussi is a muscular salamander of reasonably large size with long, robust limbs and a stout, comparatively blunt-tipped tail that is constricted at the base. The snout-to-vent length in males ranges from 70.0 - 84.8 millimeters and in females 72.0 - 89.4 millimeters. The head, which is wide and fairly long, has massive jaw muscles, and the segmental muscles on the trunk form costal grooves. Well-developed eyes protrude over the dorsal outline, and the nostrils are small and open. Males have a round mental gland under their chin that females lack. Parotoid glands are absent. Muscles are conspicuous along their costal grooves. The tail is thick, constricted at the base, and fairly blunt at the tip. The limbs are long and thick. The hands and feet are comparatively broad with long, slender digits. The longest digit is the third digit, and the length of the fifth digit is much shorter, though still noticeable. Subterminal pads are present but small, and may lack or have slight webbing. (Parra-Olea et al. 2005).

This species is distinguished from other species in the subfamily Bolitoglossinae by its muscular form. Pseudoeurycea smithi is closely related, and P. papenfussi has been misclassified in the past as this species. Pseudoeurycea papenfussi can be distinguished from P. smithi by having longer limbs and more teeth. When compared to Pseudoeurycea aquatica, P. papenfussi has shorter limbs and digits, a less depressed head, open nostrils (opposed to closed), and more maxillary teeth. Molecular features such as proteins and mtDNA sequences are also distinct (Parra-Olea et al. 2005).

In life, P. papenfussi is a chestnut-brown ground color. The coloration is paler near the head and darker near the tail, which generally has a brighter reddish-brown hue. Dark brown-gray costal grooves extend to the pale tan venter, which has a light chestnut hue. When preserved in alcohol, Pseudoeurycea papenfussi is generally a rich golden brown color. Specimens are darkest on the dorsum, costal grooves, and grooves between muscles. Pigmentation of costal grooves extends noticeably to the mid-ventral region. A paler venter is marked with small brown spots and flecks. The head is less pigmented than the rest of the body, and the snout, upper and lower jaws margins, facial area, eyelids, and temporal areas have a pale cream coloration. The limbs are also light in coloration (Parra-Olea et al. 2005).

Some living specimens of P. papenfussi have a similar marbled dorsal pattern to P. aquatica. Preserved specimens of P. papenfussi can have darker black and brown coloring on the back, and lighter coloring on the tail (Parra-Olea et al. 2005).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Mexico


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
This species is endemic to the Sierra de Juárez mountain range in Oaxaca, Mexico, specifically near Cerro Pelón and Cerro Humo, to Cerro Peña Verde and the Pápalo region. Its habitat includes pine forests, barren rocky slopes, and regions near the peaks of mountains above the cloud forest. Specimens were found between the elevation ranges of 2800 to 2900 m, but could be at elevations as low as 2650 m (Parra-Olea et al. 2005).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This salamander is a slow moving terrestrial species that is generally found at night on rock surfaces (often climbing these vertical surfaces when conditions are humid, misty, and/or rainy). Pseudoeurycea papenfussi has also been encountered when conditions are cold and/or windy (Parra-Olea 2005). It is presumed to reproduce by direct development. Population status is unclear but P. papenfussi has been thought to be uncommon in the area for quite some time (Hanken et al. 2008).

Trends and Threats
Current population trends are unknown. The habitat for this species was significantly deforesting by unregulated logging but has since been recovering. Pseudoeurycea papenfussi may not be in decline but is close to being classified as Vulnerable by IUCN because of a restricted area of occurrence in its currently designated habitat. The Reserva de la Biósfera Tehuacán-Cuicatlán is where the species is known from (Hanken et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities

The species authority is: Parra-Olea, G., García-París, M., Hanken, J. and Wake, D.B. 2005. Two new species of Pseudoeurycea (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from the Mountains of Northern Oaxaca, Mexico. Copeia: 461-469.

Pseudoeurycea papenfussi and P. smithi are sister taxa (Parra-Olea et al. 2005).

This species was named after Theodore J. Papenfuss, from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley (Parra-Olea et al. 2005).


Hanken, J., Wake, D., Papenfuss, T. 2008. Pseudoeurycea papenfussi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. Accessed on 21 March 2015.

Parra-Olea, G., García-París, M., Hanken, J., and Wake, D.B. (2004). ''A new species of arboreal salamander (Caudata: Plethodontidae: Pseudoeurycea) from the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico.'' Journal of Natural History, 38, 2119-2131.

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: Emily Kaminski (first posted 2015-06-12)
Edited by: Gordon Lau (2018-12-07)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2018 Pseudoeurycea papenfussi: Muscular Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 12, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 12 Apr 2024.

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