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Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa) Fact Sheet: Taxonomy & History

Taxonomic History & Nomenclature

Taxonomic History

  • Muscosa means "mossy" in Latin
  • Originally classified as (Grinnel and Camp 1917)
    • Rana boylii sierrae (northern population)
    • Rana boylii muscosa (southern population)
  • Zweifel (1955) classified both populations as a single species, Rana muscosa
  • DNA analysis supports 2 distinct species: Rana sierrae and Rana muscosa (Vredenburg 2007)

Common Names

  • Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, California Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog

Order and Species

  • 22 families of frogs and toads make up the order Anura
  • 21 North American species in genus Rana (including R. muscosa)


Evolutionary History

6 native species of Rana found in western United States

  • R. boylii, R aurora, R. muscosa, R. sierrae, R. pretiosa, and R. cascadae (Macey 2001)

R. muscosa and R. sierrae diverged approximately 2.2 million years ago (Shaffer 2000)

  • A geographic area between Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park separate R. muscosa and R. sierrae
    • Closely related populations of snake, salamander, newt, and toad are also separated by same area

Cultural History

Popular cultural references


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Amphibia

Order: Anura (frogs and toads), Anura means "tailess" in Greek

Family: Ranidae (true frogs)

Genus: Rana

Species: R. muscosa (southern population)
Species: R. sierrae (northern population)  

Describer: Camp, C.L. (1917). Notes on the systematic status of the toads and frogs of California. University of California Publications in Zoology, 17:115–125.

Page Citations

Camp (1917)
Macey et al. (2001)
Shaffer et al. (2000)
Grinnel and Camp (1917)
Zweifel (1955)
Vredenburg (2007)

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