IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

Comprehensive Description

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Balebreviceps hillmani is a stout-bodied frog with females having a snout-vent length of 45 - 53 mm and males having a smaller length of 36 - 39 mm. In both males and females, the head and eyes are relatively small. The eyes are more horizontal in shape. The snout is rounded and truncated. Tympanums seem to be absent in this species. The skin texture on the dorsal side is glandular, thick, and deeply pitted. The ventral surface on the other hand, is smooth to weakly granular, except for the throat region, which is very wrinkled. Hind limbs are relatively short yet very muscular. Fingers are tapered and broad, with relative lengths of 1 < 2 < 4 < 3. The palms have tubercles that are well-developed. The feet, as well as toes, are both broad. The toes are tapered and lack webbing, with margins that are slightly compressed to form very faint, lateral flanges. The toes have relatives lengths of 1 < 2 < 5 < 3 < 4 (Largen and Drewes 1989).

Balebreviceps hillmani is differentiated from other Brevicipitidae by the presence of posteriorly curved clavicles and absence of middle ear elements. It also has a unique structured palate. The fifth metatarsal has a uniquely elongated proximate epiphysis. Both Balebreviceps and Probreviceps have noticeable longer hind limbs in comparison to Breviceps. Osteologically, the nasals of Balebreviceps are smaller and broadly separated, where as in Probreviceps, the nasals are larger and almost meet in the midline (Largen and Drewes 1989).

In life, expect to see a deep purple or brown color on the dorsal side, with a pair of pale yellow or golden stripes located dorsolaterally. The dorsal margins of the head are outlined by a similar pale-colored marking that extends all the way to the tip of the snout. The sides of the head are dark grey-brown with grayish-yellow spotting. The dorsolateral lines can often expand towards the midline and onto the head, so that the dark color in-between turns into a blob or completely disappears depending on the thickness of the lines. The hindlimbs are similar in color to the dorsolateral strips, and often even have a hint of orange. Sometimes they may also be a dark grey-brown color like the forelimbs. The forelimbs may also have dirty yellow blotches. The soles of the hands and feet are flesh colored and occasionally a pale grey. The ventral side is dirty yellow for the most part, although the belly is sometimes pale grey and the chest is often a pinkish color. In alcohol, expect to see the same dark purple brown color on the dorsum, and the dorsolateral stripes become a dirty cream color. The flank area is also a purplish-brown color with yellow or cream colored spotting. The venter is a cream color with markings that are a darker, purple or brown color (Largen and Drewes 1989).

Related genera include Breviceps and Probreviceps (Largen and Drewes 1989).

Balebreviceps gets its name after the Bale Mountains in southern Ethiopia (Largen and Drewes 1989).


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