Under Construction


Shovel-Nosed Frogs

David Cannatella
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Containing group: Neobatrachia


Hemisus are the Shovel-Nosed frogs of Africa. This frog burrows head-first in contrast to many other burrowers. The head is solidly bony, and the tip of the snout is pointed; the forelimbs are unusually stout. There are about eight species of Hemisus. The genus is usually placed in its own subfamily or family group.

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Duellman and Trueb (1986) treated this taxon as a subfamily of ranids. Laurent (1979) and Dubois (1981) listed it as Hemisidae; the appropriate form is Hemisotidae. Either family-group name is redundant with Hemisus, the only genus. Ford and Cannatella (1993) defined Hemisus to be the node-based name for the last common ancestor of species of Hemisus listed in Frost (1985), and all of its descendants. Synapomorphies include the lack of sternum (convergent with Rhinophrynus and Brachycephalidae) and a skull highly modified for head-first burrowing. Hemisus lacks a sternum, and has a vertical pupil, fused carpals and tarsals, and a notched tongue. The vertical pupil suggests that it is closely related to Hyperoliidae and the notched tongue suggests relationship to Ranidae.

Other Names for Hemisus


Click here for general list of references

Title Illustrations
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

Hemisus marmoratum; photo copyright © 1995 David Cannatella

Copyright © 1995 David Cannatella
About This Page
If you are interested in authoring or co-authoring the page for this taxon, or some part of it (even a species), contact David Cannatella.

David Cannatella
University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to David Cannatella at

Page: Tree of Life Hemisus. Shovel-Nosed Frogs. Authored by David Cannatella. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Cannatella, David. 1995. Hemisus. Shovel-Nosed Frogs. Version 01 January 1995 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Hemisus/16955/1995.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

edit this page
close box

This page is a Tree of Life Branch Page.

Each ToL branch page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a branch of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a branch and a leaf of the Tree of Life is that each branch can be further subdivided into descendent branches, that is, subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

close box


Page Content

articles & notes



Explore Other Groups

random page

  go to the Tree of Life home page