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Class Amphibia
Order Anura
Family Bufonidae


Anaxyrus boreas—Western Toad // Anaxyrus cognatus—Great Plains Toad // Anaxyrus debilis—Green Toad // Anaxyrus kelloggi—Little Mexican Toad // Anaxyrus microscaphus—Southwestern Toad // Anaxyrus punctatus—Red-spotted Toad // Anaxyrus woodhousii—Woodhouse's Toad

Anaxyrus sp.—True ToadsPleistocene distribution of Anaxyrus sp.

Synonyms. Bufo

As a group, the Pleistocene fossil anurans of the region have been understudied. Several sites have a fair amount of bufonid material that have been identified only to genus. The specimens likely represent Anaxyrus, not Incilius.

Van Devender and Worthington (1977) identified two small members of the genus from Howell's Ridge Cave to species, but in addition noted the presence of material representing one or more large species, citing as possibilities A. cognatus, A. woodhousii, and A. speciosus.


Late Blancan: Caballo (Morgan et al. 2011: ?).

Late Blancan/Irvingtonian: Vallecito Creek, Anza-Borrego Desert (Cassiliano 1999).

Early Irvingtonian: Gypsum Ridge (Wagner and Prothero 2001).

Irvingtonian/Rancholabrean: Cadiz (Jefferson 2014).

Rancholabrean: Bedford Properties (Jefferson 1991a); Century City, Los Angeles (Jefferson 1991a); Centennial Parkway, Las Vegas Valley (Jefferson et al. 2015); Detention Basin, Upper Las Vegas Wash (Jefferson 1991a); Piute Ponds (Jefferson 2014: ?); Tule Springs (Springer et al. 2005); Tramperos Creek (Morgan and Lucas 2005).

Late Pleistocene: Wanis View (Jefferson 2014).

Sangamon: Naval Housing Unit (Jefferson 1991a); San Pedro Lumber Co. (Jefferson 1991a).

Early Mid or Early Wisconsin: Lost Valley (UTEP).

Mid Wisconsin: U-Bar Cave (Harris 1987).

Mid/Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Sierra Diablo Cave (UTEP).

Late Wisconsin: Charlies Parlor (Harris 1989); U-Bar Cave 13-14 ka (Harris 1989); U-Bar Cave 14-15 ka (Harris 1989); U-Bar Cave 15-18 ka (Harris 1989); U-Bar Cave 18-20 ka (Harris 1989); Valley Wells (Springer et al. 2010: cf.); White Lake (Harris 1993c: cf.).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Conkling Cavern (UTEP); Howell's Ridge Cave (Van Devender and Worthington 1977); Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003).

Literature. Cassiliano 1999; Harris 1987, 1989, 1993c; Jefferson 1991a, 2014; Jefferson et al. 2015; Morgan and Lucas 2005; , Springer et al. 2005, 2010, Van Devender and Worthington 1977; Wagner and Prothero 2001.


Anaxyrus boreas (Baird & Girard, 1852)—Western ToadRegional distribution of fossil Anaxyrus boreas

Synonyms. Bufo boreas, Bufo nestor.

The Western Toad is widely spread from Alaska to Baja California Norte and east through the Intermontane West and the Rockies.


?Late Irvingtonian/Rancholabrean: Emery Borrow Pit (Jefferson 1991a).

Rancholabrean: Desert Sunlight Project (Jefferson 2014).

Sangamon: Newport Bay Mesa (Jefferson 1991a>.

Wisconsin: Costeau Pit (Jefferson 1991a).

Mid Wisconsin: Pacific City (Wake and Roeder 2009).

Mid/Late Wisconsin: Diamond Valley (Spring et al. 2009: cf.); Rancho La Brea (Brattstrom 1953; Tihen 1962).

Literature. Brattstrom 1953; Springer et al. 2009; Tihen 1962; Wake and Roeder 2009.


Anaxyrus cognatus (Say 1823)—Great Plains ToadDistribution of fossil Anaxyrus cognatus

Synonyms. Bufo cognatus

Applegarth (1979) reported this toad, currently rather widespread in the Southwest, to be limited to areas of deep, soft alluvium. His identifications from the Animal Fair deposits in Dry Cave indicated a rather low frequency, leading him to suggest that occurrence was not strictly local but probably represented predator carry-ins from the Pecos Valley to the east.

Anaxyrus cognatus photo by Carl S. Lieb

Fig. 1. Anaxyrus cognatus. Photograph by Carl S. Lieb.


Sangamon: La Brisca (Van Devender et al. 1985: cf.).

Mid/Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair, pre-pleniglacial (Applegarth 1979).

Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair 18-20 ka (Applegarth 1979); TT II (Harris 1993c: cf.).

Literature. Harris 1993c; Applegarth 1979; Van Devender et al. 1985.


Anaxyrus debilis (Girard 1854)—Green ToadRegional Pleistocene distribution of Anaxyrus debilis

Synonyms. Bufo debilis

Van Devender and Worthington (1977) gave grassland and desertscrub habitats as typical for this small toad. Applegarth (1979) gave semiarid grassland with relatively warm temperatures and with summer precipitation as their preferred habitat. Its absence from full-glacial deposits in southeastern New Mexico is not surprising.
Anaxyrus debilis photo by Carl S. Lieb

Fig. 1. Anaxyrus debilis. Photograph by Carl S. Lieb.


Late Wisconsin: U-Bar Cave 15-18 ka (Harris 1989: cf.).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Howell's Ridge Cave, 120-130 cm level (Van Devender and Worthington 1977).

Literature. Applegarth 1979; Harris 1989; Van Devender and Worthington 1977


Anaxyrus kelloggi Taylor 1936—Little Mexico ToadDistribution of fossil Anaxyrus cf. kelloggi

The occurrence at La Brisca is to the northeast of its present known distribution (Van Devender et al. 1985).


Sangamon: La Brisca (Van Devender et al. 1985: cf.).

Literature Cited. Van Devender et al. 1985.


Anaxyrus microscaphus, photo by Jeff Servoss, US Fish and Wildlife ServiceAnaxyrus microscaphus (Cope, 1866)—Arizona ToadDistribution of fossil Anaxyrus ? microscaphus

Synonyms. Bufo microscaphus

The identification of this toad from U-Bar Cave is extremely tentative.

Fig. 1. Anaxyrus microscaphus. Photograph courtesy of Jeff Servoss and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Mid/Late Wisconsin: Rancho La Brea (Stock and Harris 1992).

Late Wisconsin: U-Bar Cave 14-15 ka (Harris 1989: ?).

Literature. Harris 1989; Stock and Harris 1992.


Anaxyrus punctatus (Baird & Girard 1852)—Red-spotted ToadRegional Pleistocene distribution of Anaxyrus punctatus

Synonyms. Bufo punctatus

This rock-loving toad appears to be one of a suite of vertebrates moving into the southern portions of the region in the terminal Wisconsin, presumably in response to warmer summer temperatures and, possibly, increased summer precipitation. Today, it occurs in New Mexico in rocky habitats up to about 1800-2000 m (Applegarth 1979; Van Devender and Worthington 1977).Anaxyrus punctatus photo by Carl S. Lieb

Fig. 1. Anaxyrus punctatus. Photograph by Carl S. Lieb.

Late Wisconsin: Gypsum Cave (Jefferson et al. 2015); Red Tail Peak Midden (Jefferson 1991a); TT II (UTEP: cf.); Tunnel Ridge Midden (Jefferson 1991a); U-Bar Cave (UTEP: cf.); Wolcott Peak #5 (Mead 2005).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Balcony Room (Holman 1970); Deadman Cave (Mead et al. 1984); Howell's Ridge Cave (Van Devender and Worthington 1977).


Late Wisconsin: Bison Chamber (Holman 1970): rejected by Applegarth (1979) as a misidentification.

Literature. Applegarth 1979; Holman 1970; Jefferson 1991a; Jefferson et al. 2015; Mead 2005; Mead et al. 1984; Van Devender and Worthington 1977.


Anaxyrus punctatus/retiformis—Red-spotted Toad or Sonoran Green ToadRegional Pleistocene distribution of fossil Anaxyrus punctatus/retiformis


Sangamon: La Brisca (Van Devender et al. 1985).

Literature. Van Devender et al. 1985.


Anaxyrus punctatus/woodhousii—Red-spotted/Woodhouse's ToadRegional Pleistocene distribution of fossil Anaxyrus punctatus/woodhousei

Synonyms. Bufo punctatus/Bufo woodhousii

Czaplewski and Mead et al. (1999) were able to narrow down two ilia from Papago Springs Cave to one or the other of these two species.


Mid Wisconsin: Papago Springs Cave (Czaplewski and Mead et al. 1999).

Literature. Czaplewski, Mead, et al. 1999.


Anaxyrus woodhousii (Girard 1854)—Woodhouse's ToadDistribution of fossil Anaxyrus woodhousei

Synonyms. Bufo woodhousei

This widespread toad apparently tends to prefer a relatively sandy substrate and somewhat mesic conditions according to Applegarth (1979), who also remarked that it is absent from Eddy County, NM, today except along the Pecos northward from Lake McMillan (a lake formed by damming the Pecos River north of Carlsbad).

Anaxyrus woodhousii photo by Carl S. LiebHolman (1970) made a point of comparing the Dry Cave specimens that he examined with an extinct Pleistocene subspecies of Anaxyrus woodhousii (A. w. bexarensis). The latter is recorded from Pleistocene sites on the Edward's Plateau, to the east, and at Lubbock Lake in the Panhandle of Texas (Johnson 1987). Large size appears to be the sole criterion for recognition of the subspecies. The New Mexican specimens represent A. w. woodhousii.

Fig. 1. Anaxyrus woodhousii. Photograph by Carl S. Lieb.


Mid/Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair pre-pleniglacial (Applegarth 1979); Dark Canyon Cave (Applegarth 1979).

Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair 18-20 ka (Applegarth 1979); Bison Chamber (Holman 1970); Harris' Pocket (Holman 1970).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Deadman Cave (Mead et al. 1984); Fowlkes Cave (Parmley 1988); Howell's Ridge Cave (Van Devender and Worthington 1977); U-Bar Cave (UTEP: ?).

Literature. Applegarth 1979; Holman 1970; Johnson 1987; Mead et al. 1984; Parmley 1988; Van Devender and Worthington 1977.


Last Update: 28 May 2015