Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
Hadromophryne natalensis males measure up to 45 mm and females to 63 mm SVL (Wager 1986). The eyes of H. natalensis are large and protruding and have vertically elliptical pupils (Burton 2002). The head is somewhat flat (Burton 2002). The body is also flattened, with expanded triangular discs on the fingers and toes (Wager 1986). Toes are half-webbed (Wager 1986). Breeding males have spines on the dorsal surfaces of Fingers I-III, as well as around the shoulders (Channing 2001).
This frog varies in color from brown to dark blue-black, with blotches of yellow or green (Channing 2001; Wager 1986). Limbs are barred (Wager 1986). The underside is whitish and the throat is marbled with light brown (Wager 1986).
Hadromophryne natalensis tadpoles reach 85 mm in total length, with the body 32 mm and the tail 53 mm (Wager 1986). The tadpole has a modified mouth, with only a lower beak (Channing 2001). Teeth of young tadpoles have been described as "fanglike", replaced by regular denticles as the larvae mature (Channing 2001). Tadpoles have four upper rows and generally 14 lower rows (range 12-17) of labial teeth (Wager 1986). The mouth is encircled by papillae, with two rows of papillae above the mouth and four rows below (for a drawing of the mouth, see Wager 1986). The oral disc is "suckerlike", allowing it to cling to rocks in fast-flowing streams (Channing 2001). A long, laterally flattened, and muscular tail is present (Burton 2002), with narrow fins that begin 1/3 of the way down the tail (Wager 1986). The coloration is brown with darker mottling and sometimes a black tail tip (Wager 1986).
Hadromophryne natalensis may actually be a species complex (Channing 2001). Separated by areas of lower elevation, populations are often restricted to their mountainous habitats. These geographical boundaries are barricades to gene flow; genetic variation is low within populations but high amongst populations (Grobler et al. 2003).
This species was formerly known as Heleophryne natalensis, but has recently been separated out into a new genus (van Dijk 2008).