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Rana is a genus of frogs commonly known as the Holarctic true frogs, pond frogs or brown frogs. Members of this genus are found through much of Eurasia and western North America. Many other genera were formerly included here.[1][2] These true frogs are usually largish species characterized by their slim waists and wrinkled skin; many have thin ridges running along their backs, but they generally lack "warts" as in typical toads. They are excellent jumpers due to their long, slender legs. The typical webbing found on their hind feet allows for easy movement through water. Coloration is mostly greens and browns above, with darker and yellowish spots.

Rana aurora 6230.JPG
Northern red-legged frog (Rana aurora)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Rana
Linnaeus, 1758

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Distribution and habitatEdit

Many frogs in this genus breed in early spring, although subtropical and tropical species may breed throughout the year. Males of most of the species are known to call, but a few species are thought to be voiceless. Females lay eggs in rafts or large, globular clusters, and can produce up to 20,000 at one time.


Rana species feed mainly on insects and invertebrates, but swallow anything they can fit into their mouths, including small vertebrates. Among their predators are egrets, crocodiles, and snakes.


Some 50 to 100 extant species are now placed in this genus by various authors; many other species formerly placed in Rana are now placed elsewhere. Frost[3] restricted Rana to the Old World true frogs and the Eurasian brown and pond frogs of the common frog R. temporaria group,[4] although other authors disagreed with this arrangement.[5][6][2][7] In 2016, a consortium of Rana researchers from throughout Europe, Asia, and North America revised the group, and reported that the arrangement of Frost (2006) resulted in nonmonophyletic groups.[8] Yuan et al. (2016)[9] included all the North American ranids within Rana, and used subgenera for the well-differentiated species groups within Rana. Both of these classifications are presented below.

Genera recently split from Rana are Babina, Clinotarsus (including Nasirana), Glandirana, Hydrophylax, Hylarana, Lithobates, Odorrana (including Wurana), Pelophylax, Pulchrana, Sanguirana, and Sylvirana. Of these, Odorrana is so closely related to Rana proper, it could conceivably be included here once again. The others seem to be far more distant relatives, in particular Pelophylax.[1][2]

New species are still being described in some numbers. A number of extinct species are in the genus, including Rana basaltica, from Miocene deposits in China.[10]


Frost's (2006) classification includes these species:

The revision of Rana by Yuan et al.[8] includes these species, arranged in subgenera (this taxonomy has been adopted by AmphibiaWeb, available at, an online compendium of amphibian names and information.):

Subgenus Aquarana (North American water frogs)

Subgenus Amerana (Pacific brown frogs)

Subgenus Lithobates (neotropical true frogs)

Subgenus Pantherana (leopard, pickerel and gopher frogs)

Subgenus Pseudorana (Weining brown frog)

Subgenus Rana (Eurasian brown frogs)

Subgenus Zweifelia (Mexican torrent frogs)

Incertae sedis (no assigned subgenus)

Notes on other taxonomic arrangements:

The harpist brown frog, Kampira Falls frog, or Yaeyama harpist frog was formerly known as R. psaltes; it was subsequently identified as the long-known R. okinavana. The latter name has been misapplied to the Ryūkyū brown frog, but the harpist brown frog is a rather distinct species that apparently belongs in Babina or Nidirana if these are considered valid.[11]


  1. ^ a b Cai, Hong-xia; Che, Jing, Pang, Jun-feng; Zhao, Er-mi & Zhang, Ya-ping (2007): Paraphyly of Chinese Amolops (Anura, Ranidae) and phylogenetic position of the rare Chinese frog, Amolops tormotus. Zootaxa 1531: 49–55. PDF abstract and first page text
  2. ^ a b c Stuart, Bryan L. (2008): The phylogenetic problem of Huia (Amphibia: Ranidae). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 46(1): 49-60. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.09.016 PMID 18042407 (HTML abstract)
  3. ^ Frost, Darrel R. (2006): Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 4, 2006-Aug-17.
  4. ^ Lithobates, American Museum of Natural History.
  5. ^ Hillis, D. M. & Wilcox, T. P. (2005): Phylogeny of the New World true frogs (Rana). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 34(2): 299–314. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.10.007 PMID 15619443 PDF fulltext
  6. ^ Hillis, D. M. (2007) Constraints in naming parts of the Tree of Life. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 42: 331–338. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.08.001 PMID 16997582 PDF fulltext
  7. ^ Pauly, Greg B., Hillis, David M. & Cannatella, David C. (2009): Taxonomic freedom and the role of official lists of species names. Herpetologica 65: 115-128. PDF fulltext Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b Yuan, Z.-Y.; et al. (2016). "Spatiotemporal diversification of the true frogs (genus Rana): A historical framework for a widely studied group of model organisms". Systematic Biology. 65 (5): 824–42. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syw055. PMID 27288482.
  9. ^ Yuan, Z.-Y.; Zhou, W.-W.; Chen, X.; Poyarkov, N. A.; Chen, H.-M.; Jang-Liaw, N.-H.; Chou, W.-H.; Iizuka, K.; Min, M.-S.; Kuzmin, S. L.; Zhang, Y.-P.; Cannatella, D. C.; Hillis, D. M.; Che, J. (2016). "Spatiotemporal diversification of the true frogs (genus Rana): A historical framework for a widely studied group of model organisms". Systematic Biology. 65 (5): 824–42. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syw055. PMID 27288482.
  10. ^ Young, C. C. (1936). "A Miocene fossil frog from Shantung". Acta Geologica Sinica (English Edition). 15 (2): 189–193. doi:10.1111/j.1755-6724.1936.mp15002003.x.
  11. ^ Matsui, Masafumi (2007): Unmasking Rana okinavana Boettger, 1895 from the Ryukyus, Japan (Amphibia: Anura: Ranidae). Zool. Sci. 24: 199–204. doi:10.2108/zsj.24.199 (HTML abstract)

Further readingEdit

  • Dubois, A. & Ohler, A. (1995) Frogs of the subgenus Pelophylax (Amphibia, Anura, genus Rana): a catalogue of available and valid scientific names, with comments on the name-bearing types, complete synonymies, proposed common names, and maps showing all type localities. In: Ogielska, M. (ed.): II International Symposium on Ecology and Genetics of European water frogs, 18–25 September 1994, Wroclaw, Poland. Zoologica Poloniae 39(3-4): 139-204

External linksEdit