Five new species of Pristimantis (Anura: Strabomantidae) from the coastal cloud forest of the Península de Paria, Venezuela

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Hinrich Kaiser
César L. Barrio-Amorós
Gilson A. Rivas
Claus Steinlein
Michael Schmid


Fieldwork in the cloud forest of Venezuela’s remote Península de Paria in 2001 resulted in the collection of several specimens that could unquestionably be classified as members of the genus Pristimantis.  Subsequent analysis of comparative material in museum collections brought the total number of specimens to 44, and these collectively represent five new species. Two of these species, P. geminus sp. nov. and P. nubisilva sp. nov., have phenotypes remarkably similar to the Trinidadian P. urichi, supporting a prediction that Pristimantis from easternmost Venezuela may have given rise to Trinidadian forms. Pristimantis hoogmoedi sp. nov. is easily identified by its large size and red eyes. Two of the species, P. longicorpus sp. nov. and P. pariagnomus sp. nov., are very distinct morphologically but are known only from the holotypes. The former is characterized by an elongate body form supported by relatively short limbs, whereas the latter has very distinctive hand morphology and is likely the smallest Venezuelan frog. Chromosome banding studies of P. nubisilva sp. nov. and P. hoogmoedi sp. nov. revealed chromosome numbers of 2n = 36 and 2n = 26, respectively, with an unusual submetacentric fusion chromosome 11;18 in some males of the former and a unique meiotic pairing of chromosomes in males of the latter.  All five species can be readily distinguished by their osteology, such as by the extent of the sphenethmoid and features on the roof of the mouth, as well as by the shape and rearrangement of mesopodial elements.  The unexpectedly high diversity of Pristimantis in this region, along with high endemism of amphibians and reptiles in general, underscores the position of the Península de Paria as a center for frog biodiversity in Venezuela.  The similarity of these Paria species to Pristimantis from Trinidad, Tobago and the central Cordillera de la Costa represents a tangible piece of evidence for the close biogeographic link of the anuran fauna of these landmasses.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Hinrich Kaiser, Department of Biology, Victor Valley College, 18422 Bear Valley Road, Victorville, California 92395, USA; and Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20013, USA

Dr. Hinrich Kaiser is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Victor Valley College in Victorville, California, USA and a Research Collaborator of the United States National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA. He currently serves as an Associate Editor with both Journal of Herpetology and Herpetology Notes, and as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Foundation for Post-Conflict Development, New York. Hinrich’s most recent publications have focused on the herpetofauna of Timor-Leste and nearby areas of Wallacea, as well as on the defense of herpetological taxonomy against taxonomic vandalism.

César L. Barrio-Amorós, Doc Frog Expeditions, Apartado Postal 220-8000, San José, Perez Zeledon, San Isidro del General 11901, Costa Rica

César L. Barrio Amorós is a freelance researcher and photographer and the owner of Doc Frog Expeditions and Photography. His research focus is on the taxonomy of Venezuelan amphibians and reptiles, especially Terrarana and Dendrobatoidea. He has published or coauthored more than 200 articles, including the description of 50 mainly Venezuelan new species. César currently resides in Costa Rica, where he teaches herpetology courses and leads nature tours with a herpetological emphasis.

Gilson A. Rivas, Museo de Biologia, Facultad Experimental de Ciencias, La Universidad del Zulia, Apartado Postal 526, Maracaibo 4011, Maracaibo, Venezuela

Gilson A. Rivas earned a BSc in Animal Science from Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales and currently serves as co-editor of the journal Anartia in the Museo de Biología, Facultad Experimental de Ciencias, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela. He has been involved in research on the systematics and conservation of the Venezuelan herpetofauna for two decades, having co-authored more than 100 scientific contributions, including descriptions of over 20 new species of amphibians and reptiles. Gilson’s research focus is the herpetofauna of the Península de Paria and surrounding areas, particularly with respect to systematics and conservation,as well as the influence of invasive species and human development and their impact on the native fauna. 

Claus Steinlein, Institut für Humangenetik, Universität Würzburg, Biozentrum Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany

Claus Steinlein holds an engineering degree from the University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg, Germany. His unrivaled expertise in the development of cytogenetics techniques and protocols has enabled him to produce exceptional chromosome data sets over the past three decades, leading to his co-authorship of numerous research articles in the highest ranked scientific journals. He currently serves as Editorial Administrator of the journals Cytogenetic and Genome Research, Sexual Development, and Molecular Syndromology.

Michael Schmid, Institut für Humangenetik, Universität Würzburg, Biozentrum Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany

Dr. Michael Schmid obtained his doctorate in human biology from the University of Ulm, Germany. He directs the cytogenetics group in the Department of Human Genetics, University of Würzburg, Germany, where he has been a professor since 1995. Aside from his main line of research in human genetics, Michael has broad interest in vertebrate cytogenetics, and his series of papers on chromosome banding in Amphibia remains a standard setting contribution. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journals Cytogenetic and Genome Research, Sexual Development, and Molecular Syndromology. He was one of the founding editors of the journal Chromosome Research. He currently serves as Editor of the revived book series Monographs in Human Genetics and as Executive Editor of the new book series Genome Dynamics.


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