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Class Amphibia
Order Anura
Family Scaphiopodidae


Spea bombifrons—Plains Spadefoot // Spea hammondi—Western Spadefoot // Spea multiplicata—Mexican Spadefoot

Spea Cope 1866—Spea Spadefoot Toads

Spadefoot toads tend to be rather well adapted to arid and semiarid conditions and are widespread today at low to moderate elevations in the Southwest, as they were during the Quaternary. Identifications often can be made with confidence to the family level, but assignment to genus or species may not be possible with much of the material.


Spea bombifrons (Cope 1863)—Plains SpadefootPleistocene distribution of Spea bombifrons

Synonyms. Scaphiopus bombifrons.

Plains Spadefoot, Spea bombifrons. Carl S. Lieb photograph.According to Van Devender and Worthington (1977), this toad lives in grassland and desertscrub habitats in the Southwest. As yet, it has not been identified in deposits that can be surely assigned to the full-glacial.

Holman (1970) and Applegarth (1979) disagreed on the identifiability of some spadefoot-toad elements from UTEP Locs. 12 and 6; the more conservative tack has been taken here (i.e., as identifiable only to genus where questioned—see "Rejected" below).

Fig. 1. Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons). Carl S. Lieb photograph.


Mid/Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair, D7 L13 (Applegarth 1979).

Late Wisconsin: Bison Chamber (Holman 1970).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Howell's Ridge Cave (Van Devender and Worthington 1977).

Rejected Sites.

Late Wisconsin: Harris' Pocket (Holman 1970); Applegarth (1979) cited as identifiable only to genus.

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Balcony Room (Holman 1970); identifiable only to genus according to Applegarth (1979).

Literature. Applegarth 1979; Holman 1970; Van Devender and Worthington 1977.


Spea hammondii (Baird 1859)—Western SpadefootRegional Pleistocene distribution of Spea hammondii


Mid/Late Wisconsin: Diamond Valley (Spring et al. 2009).

Literature. Springer et al. 2009.


Spea multiplicata (Cope 1863)—Mexican SpadefootPleistocene distribution of Spea multiplicata

Synonyms. Scaphiopus hammondii, Scaphiopus multiplicata.

In much of the literature for our area, this has been recorded as Scaphiopus hammondii before that species was split, with the population in our region becoming S. multiplicata; yet later, it was assigned to the genus Spea.

Mexican Spadefoot, Spea multiplicata. Carl S. Lieb photograph.Van Devender and Worthington (1977) noted occurrence from desert into more mesic grassland, woodland, and forest in parts of Chihuahua. Its presence in the pleniglacial fauna at Dry Cave fits well with this.

Fig. 1. Mexican Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata). Carl S. Lieb photograph.


Late Blancan: California Wash (Lindsay 1984).

Mid Wisconsin: Pendejo Cave (Harris 2003).

Mid/Late Wisconsin: Dark Canyon Cave (Applegarth 1979).

Late Wisconsin: Animal Fair 18-20 ka (Applegarth 1979); Bison Chamber (Holman 1970); Picacho Peak (Mead 2005); Sheep Camp Shelter (Harris 1993c).

Late Wisconsin/Holocene: Deadman Cave (Mead 2005); Howell's Ridge Cave (Van Devender and Worthington 1977.

Literature. Applegarth 1979; Holman 1970; Harris 1993c, 2003; Mead 2005; Van Devender and Worthington 1977.


Last Update: 15 Mar 2014