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Volume 71, 1942
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[Read before the Auckland Branch, June 18, 1941; received by the Editor, August 15, 1941; issued separately, March, 1942.]

Leiopelma * Fitzinger (1861, 218) is a member of the family Leio-pelmidae *, instituted by Noble in 1924 for the reception of Leiopelma of New Zealand and Ascaphus of western North America. Morphological and developmental studies by Noble (1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927), Archey (1922) and Wagner (1934) have established the primitive nature of the Leiopelmidae. De Villiers (1929, 67, fig. 17), slightly altering Noble's table (1924) of anuran phylogeny, derives the Leiopelmidae, Discoglossidae, Pelobatidae and Aglossa from an extinct leiopelmid-like group.

Nearly all work on Leiopelma has been applied to the general relationship of the genus. McCulloch (1919) alone has contributed directly to the taxonomy of the species of Leiopelma in separating L. hamiltoni McCulloch of Stephen Island from L. hochstetteri Fitzinger of the mainland.

The type locality of L. hochstetteri is Coromandel. Specimens had been taken in 1852 (Thomson, 1853, 66) from under rocks on the banks of a mountain stream near Coromandel, but were not named. The types of Fitzinger's species were brought to Hochstetter (1867, 163) by Maoris. Hochstetter describes the habitat of the frogs as “the small creeks rising in the Cape Colville range; also in swamps, but always as a great rarity.” It may be presumed that the types came from a creek or swamp, but this is not stated definitely.

Specimens of native frogs in the Auckland Museum collection are from several localities other than Coromandel (see text-figure): Warkworth, Huia (Waitakere Hills), Thames, Waitekauri, Te Araroa (East Cape). All these specimens have come from stream-beds or swampy areas and agree with the description of L. hochstetteri. Reports of frogs have also come from Opotiki (Hutton and Drum-mond, 1923, 384) and the Kaweka Range, in water just below the bush-line (fide Mr. K. M. Sorby), the habitats in both localities suggesting the occurrence of L. hochstetteri.

In the Coromandel district, however, specimens are found not only in the streams and swamps, but also on the hill-tops (Archey, 1922), and the latter now prove to be of a new species, differing from the stream inhabitants chiefly in lacking the webbing of the toes.

[Footnote] * Fitzinger's original spelling, although incorrectly transliterated, should be retained, and extended to the family name. The spelling Liopelma was apparently first used by Günther (1868, 478).

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Leiopelma archeyi n.sp.

  • 1922. Liopelma hochstetteri; Archey, Rec. Canterbury Mus., vol. 2, no. 2, p. 59; (not of Fitz.).

Holotype. Adult female; Auckland Museum No. Amph. 2·1; Tokatea, near Coromandel.

Paratypes. Auckland Museum Nos. Amph. 2. 2·2–2·15, all topo-types.

Diagnosis. A terrestrial frog having much the appearance of L. hamiltoni but smaller; the snout shorter, the nostrils nearer to the eye; the subarticular tubercles of the fingers and toes less distinet; and the toes with no trace of a web. More slender than L. hochstetteri; the fingers and toes slightly longer; the femur shorter, causing the heels to overlap slightly when the femurs are placed at right angles to the body; and the toes not webbed.

Picture icon

Map showing the distribution of the species of Leiopelma.

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Description of Holotype. General form slender; snout short rounded, flattened above; canthus rostralis moderately distinet; nostrils visible from above, nearer to the eye. than the tip of the snout; internostril space greater than distance between nostril and eye, slightly less than the interorbital space, equal to width of the upper eyelid; eye shorter than the snout, distance from the nostril about two-thirds the diameter of its opening; narrowest interorbital space equal to the width of the upper eyelid; no tympanum; mandible pointed at the symphysis; width of tongue half that of the mouth, almost completely united with the floor of the mouth, slightly free posteriorly; vomerine teeth as in L. hochstetteri and L. hamiltoni; foreleg not muscular, its length measured from axilla contained slightly more than one and one-half times in the head and body length; fingers long, slender, the first shorter than the second and fourth and much shorter than the third; a large inner and a small outer metacarpal tubercle; subarticular tubercles indistinct; fingers not webbed; hind limb moderately muscular; distance between vent and tibiotarsal joint slightly more than the distance between vent and angle of jaw; tibia contained two and one-third times in the head and body length, slightly longer than the distance from the base of the inner metatarsal tubercle to the tip of the longest toe; femur short, heels overlapping slightly when the femurs are placed at right angles to the body; toes long, the fourth longer than the third and fifth, and considerably longer than the first and second; toes not webbed; subarticular tubercles indistinct; a small, flat inner metatarsal tubercle; no outer tubercle; a strongly-marked dorso-lateral ridge extends backwards from behind the eye to above the abdomen being interrupted above the insertion of the arm; a broken ridge on each side dorsal to the dorso-lateral ridge; remainder of upper surface covered with scattered tubercles; dorsal surfaces of appendages covered with similar tubercles, those on the leg in the form of oblique ridges; under side smooth.

Colour in life light brown above, with irregular darker and lighter marbling and green patches; a black band extending from the tip of the snout to the nostril and eye, continuing backwards as a broken line into marbling posterior to and below the dorso-lateral ridge; a black band between the eyes posterior to a light brown area which extends forward as far as the base of the snout; leg marked above with oblique black cross bands parallel to the ridges, most prominently on the thighs; pale greyish-brown below, mottled with brown, most prominently on the appendages. Colour in alcohol as in life but above lighter, the pattern less distinct, without green; below light yellowish-brown mottled with dark brown.

Measurements (mm.). Tip of snout to vent, 32; tip of snout to angle of mouth, 11; tip of snout to nostril, 4; snout, 6·5; diameter of eye, 3·5; width of head, 12; width of interorbital space, 4; fore-limb from axilla, 21; hind-limb from vent, 48; femur from vent, 12·5; tibia, 15; foot from base of inner metatarsal tubercle to tip of longest toe, 13.

Notes on Variation. The width and degree of attachment of the tongue vary in the. paratypes. These characters are also variable

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in L. hochstetteri and L. hamiltoni, and are thus not reliable diagnostic characters as interpreted by McCulloch (1919).

The amount of green varies considerably in the field. In the paratypes in alcohol the relative amounts of dark and light colour above and below vary.

The holotype reaches the known maximum size, 32 mm. The measurements of an adult male and an adult female paratype (length 25 mm.) are almost identical. (Nos. 2·2–2·3).

Localities. Tokatea (type locality) and summit peg on the Thames-Whitianga road (both on the Cape Colville Range); Mount Moehau, near Cape Colville (fide L. M. Cranwell, L. B. Moore and A. W. B. Powell, specimens not seen).