Comprehensive Description

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Description

Morphology: Ghatixalus asterops is a medium-sized frog with SVL ranging from 38.8 mm – 44.8 mm in males, and 58.1 mm in a single collected female specimen from Kodaikanal. The snout is rounded in lateral view but in dorsal view, the snout is pointed and protrudes slightly. The body is robust. Eyes have horizontal, oval-shaped pupils and a distinctive star-shaped pattern on the iris. The tympanum is rounded and clearly visible. A distinct, supratympanic fold runs from the posterior side of the eye to the upper portion of the forearm. The hand is longer than the forelimb. Fingers are moderately webbed and have fringe on both edges as well as discs with circummarginal grooves. There is a moderate amount of webbing present. Lengths of fingers, from longest to shortest: III>IV>II>I. Each finger has a single, round, distinct subarticular tubercle and numerous supernumerary tubercles, particularly fingers III and IV. A distinct oval prepollex is present. The palmar tubercle is round and distinct. Toes are extensively webbed, with prominent subarticular tubercles but lacking supernumerary tubercles. No fringe is present on toe V. The relative length of toes from longest to shortest is IV>V>III>II>I. The inner metatarsal tubercle is distinct and oval. Skin on the dorsum is shagreened and slightly granular. Forelimbs, legs, tarsi, and thighs are shagreened dorsally. Ventrally, the throat and chest vary from shagreened to grainy. Males have a white, weakly spinose nuptial pad on finger I and a single vocal sac. The sole female specimen had a more granular skin texture and larger subarticular and supernumerary tubercles.

Coloration: Varies between localities. Dorsally, this species may have irregularly patterned brown blotches on a dark or light gray background, or reddish brown blotches on a yellowish brown background. Loreal and tympanic areas are light gray with brown spotting. Sides are yellow with brown patches. Hand and foot are light bluish-white with bluish-brown blotches present on the webbing. The posterior thigh is bluish-brown. The iris is brownish with golden stripes in the shape of a star and a slender golden ring around the periphery. Limbs are dark gray with dark brown bars. Fingers and toes are barred and have light gray tips.

Juveniles: Juvenile frogs vary from light green to light brown. Adults are never green.

Similar species: Distinguished from G. variabilis by the star-like eye pattern (uniform brown in G. variabilis), pointed snout (vs. oval), acute loreal region (vs. obtuse), shorter supratympanic fold extending to upper forearm (vs. extending to just below upper forearm level), and a longer shank equal to the thigh length (vs. shorter than thigh length).

"Aster" means star and "ops" means eyes in ancient Greek. The star-like patterning of the iris gives the eye a distinctive appearance.

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