Lithobates sp.—True Frogs // Lithobates catesbeianus—Bullfrog // Lithobates blairi/pipiens—Plains/Northern Leopard Frog // Lithobates pipiens Group—Leopard Frogs // Rana aurora—Northern Red-legged Frog
The genus Rana has been split into two genera, with Rana (Brown Frogs) now restricted to taxa of the Pacific region and the remaining North American ranids being placed in the genus Lithobates (North American True Frogs). All specimens from our region were published under the name Rana.
Although ranids tend to be fairly easily identified to family from fragmentary remains, the recognition in recent years of a number of species earlier subsumed under the species Rana pipiens leaves many past identifications suspect and greatly complicates specific identification of medium sized "leopard frogs."
Some specimens have not been identified beyond the genus Lithobates and are listed here.
Late Blancan: California Wash (Lindsay 1984); Kelly Canyon (Morgan et al. 2011).
Irvingtonian: El Golfo (Croxen et al. 2007).
Rancholabrean: Alkali Flat (Morgan and Lucas 2005); Starvation Draw (Morgan and Lucas 2005); Tramperos Creek (Morgan and Lucas 2005).
Wisconsin: White Lake (Harris 1993c).
Mid Wisconsin: Papago Springs Cave (Czaplewski and Mead et al. 1999); Térapa (Mead et al. 2006).
Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair (UTEP); Arroyo de las Tinajas 7A (UTEP); Blackwater Loc. No. 1 (Slaughter 1975); VLA (Morgan and Lucas 2005); TT II (UTEP).
Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Deadman Cave (Mead et al. 1984); Fowlkes Cave (Parmley 1988); Howell's Ridge Cave (UTEP).
Literature. Croxen et al. 2007; Czaplewski and Mead et al. 1999; Harris 1993c; Lindsay 1984; Mead et al. 1984; Mead et al. 2006; Morgan and Lucas 2005; Morgan et al. 2011; Parmley 1988; Slaughter 1975.
Synonyms. Rana catesbeiana
Wiley (1972) reported this large frog from Dark Canyon Cave, but Applegarth found the material (two vertebrae) to represent a large Woodhouse's Toad and a somewhat smaller, unidentifiable toad. Johnson (1987) reported Bullfrog material from Lubbock Lake, in the Panhandle of Texas east of our area.
This is an eastern species occurring west into the Great Plains. It has been widely introduced in historic times, including sites in New Mexico and Arizona.
Fig. 1. Photograph of Lithobates catesbeianus, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Mid/Late Wisconsin: Dark Canyon Cave (Wiley 1972); misidentified according to Applegarth (1979).
Literature. Applegarth 1979; Johnson 1987; Wiley 1972.
Synonyms. Rana blairi/pipiens
Applegarth (1979) discussed the modern distribution and habitats of leopard frogs in New Mexico. Rana berlandieri represents a relatively warm-adapted species now reaching only extreme southeastern New Mexico; it is unknown from the region as a fossil. Rana blairi, in the same species group as R. pipiens, is characteristic of open grasslands in eastern New Mexico and isolated populations across southern New Mexico into southeastern Arizona. Rana pipiens occurs in the northern and western mountains and down the Rio Grande Valley as far as El Paso, Texas.
Applegarth (1979) believed some of the Animal Fair ranids represent Rana pipiens, but that possibly R. blairi also was present. He also noted that R. pipiens may be represented at Dark Canyon Cave.
Fig. 1. Lithobates pipiens. Image courtesy of USGS Western Ecological Research Center, photograph by Brad Shaffer.
Mid/Late Wisconsin: Dark Canyon Cave (Applegarth 1979: cf.).
Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair 18-20 ka (Applegarth 1979); Bison Chamber (Harris 1993c).
Literature. Applegarth 1979; Harris 1993c.
Synonyms. Rana pipiens Group
Most of the records given here were published as R. pipiens (=Lithobates pipiens), but date from before the full extent of the leopard-frog taxonomic problem was appreciated. Thus they may represent L. pipiens or some other, related species.
Sangamon: La Brisca (Van Devender et al. 1985).
Mid Wisconsin-Holocene: Shelter Cave (Brattstrom 1964: cf).
Late Wisconsin: Brown Sand Wedge (Slaughter 1975).
Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Howell's Ridge Cave (Van Devender and Worthington 1977: cf.).
Literature. Morgan et al. 2011; Slaughter 1975; Van Devender and Worthington 1977; Van Devender et al. 1985.
It is unclear whether the fossil taxon should be assigned to this species or to Rana draytonii (California Red-legged Frog). At the time Brattstrom identified this frog, R. draytonii was considered a subspecies of the Northern Red-legged Frog. Although it seems more likely that R. drytonii is the taxon involved, since Rancho La Brea is within its general range, it is listed here as given by Brattstrom (1953).
Mid/Late Wisconsin: Rancho La Brea (Brattstrom 1953).
Literature. Brattstrom 1953.
Last Update: 30 Nov 2013