IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

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Pipa carvalhoi is a moderate to large-sized species of Pipa, with females reaching 41-68 mm and males measuring 32-57 mm in SVL (Trueb and Cannatella 1986). The head is wide and triangular, but not depressed. The snout is broad and pointed, though rounded at the tip, and bears prominent and elliptical nares. Eyes are large and positioned dorsolaterally, with a diameter one-third of the interorbital distance (Trueb and Cannatella 1986; MCZ specimens). This species possesses the most pronounced and numerous teeth of all pipids, present on premaxillae and maxillae, with Trueb and Cannatella (1986) describing the teeth as fanglike.

The body of P. carvalhoi is long, robust and does not display the same dorsoventral compression present in other pipids (Trueb and Cannatella 1986). It is most similar in form to P. parva and unlike the other five Pipa species. The skin of P. carvalhoi is covered with conical tubercles, or small protuberances. The size and density of the tubercles vary greatly in different regions of the body. Dorsal surfaces display the most extreme tubercles, particularly the posterior portion of the back. Moving from posterior to anterior, the size and density of tubercles diminish. The shoulders have few, poorly defined tubercles and on the snout they are scarce and very small. The ventral portion of the body also has tubercles but they are less prominent and generally uniform in size (they do not intensify at the posterior). The limbs exhibit the same dorsal-ventral pattern as the rest of the body. Although young adults show the same patterns, the intensity of the posterior definition of the tubercles seems to increase with size (MCZ specimens).

The lateral line organs are numerous. Eight to ten lateral line organs appear on the dorsolateral surface of the snout, between the nostril and the eye. Another six organs spread out from the anterior and anterodorsal margin of the eye. Additionally, there is a double row of organs that parallels the mandible, ending in a proliferation of organs at the angle of the jaw, and still another set extending from the posterodorsal margin of the eye to the mandible. Dorsally, two series of lateral line organs run from the head to about mid-back. Two more series begin just before the forearm. Longitudinally oriented organs run along the flank and end at the groin. A ventrolateral series of vertically oriented organs extends along the flank and then posterodorsally to the vent. Yet another series is irregularly oriented and extends ventrolaterally from the axillary region along the flank posteromedially to the vent. Ventrally, there are scattered patches of organs in the pectoral region (Trueb and Cannatella 1986).

The fingertips are specially modified. While all pipids have lobes on the end of each fingertip, the exact arrangement and position varies with the species. Pipa carvalhoi has quadripartite lobes, which are symmetrical and terminally located. This formation is shared with P. aspera, P. arrabali, and P. snethlageae. The toes of P. carvalhoi are also noteworthy as toes I-III have keratinous caps (Caramaschi 1989). While this feature is rare among amphibians generally, all other Pipa except P. pipa and P. snethlageae share this trait. Another feature of the toes used to distinguish among species is the type/presence of an inner metatarsal tubercle. In P. carvalhoi, the tubercle is present but indistinct and poorly developed (Trueb and Cannatella 1986).

In preserved specimens, the dorsal coloration of the head, back and limbs is dark brown to reddish brown, with occasional dark brown spots. The dorsal surface of the limbs has the lightest ground color and the most distinct marking. Tubercles show no deviation in color. Ventrally, the dark brown fades into a light gray/tan, with some individuals having small spots. While the feet display the same coloration, the webbing between the fingers and toes is transparent (Trueb and Cannatella 1986; Caramaschi 1989; MCZ specimens).

As is characteristic of all pipids, P. carvalhoi has a labial modification consisting of a small dermal pocket at the angle of the jaw, extending over the mandible. While this labial modification is clearly visible in P. carvalhoi, it is not as extreme as that of P. pipa or P. snethlageae. The prearticular region of P. carvalhoi’s mandible is slightly rounded, but not as extreme as the medially directed curvature found in P. pipa or P. snethlageae. In the upper jaw, the pars palatina of the maxilla extends into a palatine process. This process articulates with that of the premaxilla, ultimately modifying and strengthening the palatal shelf of the upper jaw. This is a characteristic shared with five of the seven species of pipids. The pelvic girdle of pipids is distinctive as a genus, with only slight modification among species. While some, such as P. parva have dorsolaterally oriented iliac crests, those of P. carvalhoi are lateral. As in all pipids, Pipa carvalhoi has a modified arciferal pectoral girdle, and imbricate, opisthocoelous vertebrae. The sacrum and urostyle are fused, and the sacral diapophyses are elongated in the anterior-posterior direction. The ventral-anterior margin of the presacral I (atlas) is straight to slightly concave in P. carvalhoi (Trueb and Cannatella 1986).

Tadpoles are dark gray-brown dorsally, and transparent ventrally (Sokol 1977).

Karyotype: 2n=20 (Cannatella and de Sá 1993).

Pipa carvalhoi was originally described by Miranda-Ribeiro (1937a, 1937b). Later that year, Carvalho (1937) described its larval form. Caramaschi (1989) clarified the designation of the lectotype, since Miranda-Ribeiro (1937) did not specify the holotype and paratypes.

The specimens used for observation are located at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. The catalog numbers and localities are as follows: Brazil A-25737, A-85560, A-85561, A-85562, A-85563, A-88279; Ecuador A-97277, A-97278, A-97279.


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