AmphibiaWeb - Ectopoglossus confusus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Ectopoglossus confusus (Myers & Grant, 2009)
family: Dendrobatidae
subfamily: Hyloxalinae
genus: Ectopoglossus
Species Description: Myers CW, Grant T 2009 Anomaloglossus confusus, a new Ecuadorian frog formerly masquerading as Colostethus chocoensis (Dendrobatoidea: Aromobatidae). Amer Mus Novit 3659:1-12.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Ectopoglossus confusus is a small frog with a snout-vent length of 21.7 mm for one male specimen and 23 - 26 mm for six female specimens. The average head width between the angles of the jaws is 34 - 39% of the snout-vent length. The snout is sloping; it is slightly pointed to round when viewed in profile and rounded with a median point or rounded broadly when viewed dorsally or ventrally. Nostrils are visible from the front, but barely discernible from above or below. The posterior rim of the nostrils is slightly raised, and somewhat protruding posterodorsally. The canthus rostralis is rounded. The loreal region is slightly concave, almost vertical, and slopes outward to the lip. There is a small round tubercle located behind the mouth when it is open. The width of the interorbital region is slightly larger than that of upper eyelid. The snout length in the lateral view is 80% shorter than the eye length. From the center of the nostrils to the edge of the eyes is 58% of the eye length. The distance from the eye to the nostril is 57 - 71% of eye length. The tympana are evident but indiscernible posterodorsally. They are about 33% eye length, but can be longer. Teeth are present on the maxillary arch. The median lingual process with pit is present in all specimens and is smooth, unretracted, and elongate and conical in shape (Myers and Grant 2009).

The hands are 29 - 31% of the snout-vent length in length with fringes on the pre- and postaxial edges. No webbing present. When appressed, relative finger lengths are III > IV > II ~ I, although finger II is often slightly longer. Finger III is not swollen. In some specimens, fingers II and III have preaxial fringes but lack them on the other edges, instead having a strong dermal thickening. All fingers also have protruding, elliptical subarticular tubercles; fingers I and II have one tubercle and III and IV have two. Finger discs are weakly to moderately expanded (Myers and Grant 2009).

The tibia length is 47 - 53% of the snout-vent length. Usually there is a well-developed cloacal tubercle at the base of each thigh. When appressed, relative toe length is IV > III > V > I. Toe III extends to the distal edge of the ultimate subarticular tubercles of toe IV. Toe V extends to about midway between the penultimate and ultimate subarticular tubercles of toe IV. Foot length is 45 - 52% of the snout-vent length and feet are extensively webbed. Where webbing doesn’t reach toe discs, it extends distally as a narrow fringe that turns downward on either side of toe IV and on the preaxial side of toe III. There is a strong outer metatarsal fold. Toe discs are moderately expanded, and tubercles protrude strongly. There is one subarticular tubercle on toe I, one on toe II, two on toe III, three on toe IV, and two on toe IV. The tubercle of the outer metatarsal is subcircular, and its diameter is about one half the length of the inner metatarsal tubercle. There is no tubercle on the medial metatarsal, but in some specimens, skin thickens on the medial metatarsal. The tarsal keel is well defined, and extends diagonally from the inner metatarsal tubercle along the distal half of the tarsus (Myers and Grant 2009).

Dorsal surfaces are weakly granular in life, but smooth in preservative. Ventral surfaces are smooth in both media (Myers and Grant 2009).

Members of the Ectopoglossus can be differentiated from members of Anomaloglossus by the former having loose palmar skin that creates irregular folds at the base of the fingers. From its sister genus, Paruwrobates, members of Ectopoglossus can be diagnosed by having a shorter second finger than third when they are adpressed. The unretracted median lingual process of E. confusus distinguishes it from all other dendrobatoid frogs in Ecuador. Other known trans-Andean frogs with a median lingual process include E. absconditus, E. atopoglossus, E. lacrimosus, and E. saxatilis. All are from western Colombia, while E. confusus resides in Ecuador. Additionally, E. confusus lacks the white oblique postocular stripe and the anterior white belly characteristic of E. atopoglossus and E. lacrimosus. Ectopoglossus atopoglossus usually also has dark spots on its belly, however, the belly of E. confusus appears pale blue or bluish white. Lastly, E. confusus is noticeably larger than E. lacrimosus and slightly larger than E. atopoglossus (Myers and Grant 2009). Ectopoglossus confusus can be differentiated from E. absconditus and E. saxatilis by the two latter having a low, bump-like, retractile medial lingual process vs. E. confusus' elongated, tapered, bluntly pointed, and unretracted medial lingual process (Grant et al. 2017).

In life, the dorsum of E. confusus has a blackish ground color that appears dark olive-green in the sunlight. The dots scattered on the sides of the body appear tan or bronze. Its limbs feature vague tan crossbands, and the base of its arms have a golden brown marking with an area of pale blue. The throat and venter are a pale blue, while irises are pale bronze or green with dense black venation. Ventral surfaces of limbs are grey-brown with a subtle suffusion of orange under the hind limbs (Myers and Grant 2009).

In preservative, the dorsum is brown with dark brown markings like the noticeable chevron, scapular “W” and sacral bands to the more subtle, diffuse, and irregularly distributed splotches. Ectopoglossus confusus lacks pale lateral stripes, but its flank often features fine, scattered cream spots. Its loreal region and often its dorsal snout are dark brown; this color extends posteriorly through the eye and above the supratympanic bulge. The postocular region anterior and ventral to the supratympanic bulge appears pale brown and lacks a pale oblique postocular stripe. The upper lip area is a paler brownish tan than the adjacent loreal region, and the area lacks any conspicuous striping or pale spots. The ventral side of E. confusus is a cream color with dark brown reticulation. The throat is noticeably darker than the belly in both sexes. Its arms are brown with dark brown spots or crossbands on the exposed surfaces and paler brown on its concealed surfaces. Its hands are brown with paler brown palms. Dorsal surfaces of finger I and II are cream or pale brown with brown splotches, while fingers II and IV are brown with cream blotches. The legs are brown to pale brown on exposed surfaces with variably defined darker brown transverse bands on thighs, shanks, and feet. On the thighs, the anterior surface is a solid brown, while posterior surfaces are brown or pale brown with diffuse dark brown mottling. Ectopoglossus confusus lacks pale paracloacal markings when in preservative. On the shank and foot, concealed surfaces appear cream or cream with diffuse brown stippling or mottling. Plantar surfaces become pale brown. The webbing on hind limbs is cream with brown stippling, which becomes stronger adjacent to the toes (Myers and Grant 2009).

Between individuals there is slight variation in color pattern. There is also some variation in the presence or absence of orange coloration under the hind limbs. Lastly, some specimens lack fringe on the postaxial side of their second and third fingers (Myers and Grant 2009).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Ecuador

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Ectopoglossus confusus is found in the Pacific versant of the Andes in Northwestern Ecuador. They live primarily in a riparian habitat with rocky clear water streams the lower montane rainforest. They have an elevational range of 600 – 1540 m (Myers and Grant 2009).

Ectopoglossus confusus is the only Ectopoglossus found in Ecuador (Myers and Grant 2009).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The holotype and paratypes were found during the day under rocks near the edge of a stream, as well as moving actively among the rocks. Preference for these habitats seems to be true for all three trans-Andean species and is supported by the presence of extensively webbed feet in the specimens. Specimens were also found perched at night on the leaves of herbs, which were 10 cm over the water (Meyers and Grant 2009).

Calls are not known for E. confusus, but it is known that E. atopoglossus vocalize with a series of high-pitched tones (Meyers and Grant 2009).

In adult males, testes are unpigmented with the right testis in one specimen is slightly longer than the eye at 3.8 mm. Adult females oviducts are also large and unpigmented. Ova produced by the female are unpigmented when immature and yellowish brown when mature. They measure approximately 3.0 mm in diameter (Myers and Grant 2009).

During fixation of the specimens, they exuded a milky secretion. This secretion came out of both the dorsal and lateral surfaces of the body. The source of these could either be from dendrobatoid granular glands or from mucous glands. A skin sample was not obtained, so the composition of the secretions are not known (Meyers and Grant 2009).

Ectopoglossus confusus was found to be microsympatric with both Hyloxalus infraguttatus and Epipedobates tricolor. Epipedobates tricolor mostly occurred on slopes near the stream rather than in it. In a separate location it was also found to be sympatric with Hyoxalus awa, Hyoxalus breviquartus, Hyoxalus toachi, and Epipedobates espinosai (Myers and Grant 2009).

Trends and Threats
Ectopoglossus confusus has and IUCN Red List status of "Endangered" because of its small range in a severely fragmented population, which is continuing to decline due to timber extraction, cattle ranching, and small-scale agriculture. Declines could also be attributed to chytridiomycosis, however more specific research is needed to confirm this threat. The species can be found in the Reserva Ecológica Los Ilinizas, however no conservation measures are in place for the species specifically (IUCN 2018).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Habitat fragmentation

The species authority is: Myers, C.W., Grant, T. (2009). "Anomaloglossus confusus, a new Ecuadorian frog formerly masquerading as 'Colostethus' chosoensis (Dendrobatidae: Aromobatidae)." American Museum of Natural History, 3659, 1 - 12.

At the time of its description, the species was placed in Anomaloglossus because of the presence of a median lingual process (Myers and Grant 2009). However, a phylogenetic analysis of genetics, morphology, behavior, and defense chemicals on closely related species placed E. confusus into the newly erected genus, Ectopoglossus, splitting species with medial lingual processes from east of the Andes (Anomaloglossus) from those to the west (Ectopoglossus) (Grant et al. 2017).

The species epithet, “confusus”, comes from the Latin for “confundo”, which means to confound or mix together. This name was given because E. confusus was previously confused with "Hyloxalus chocoensis (Myers and Grant 2009).

Ectopoglossus confusus is synonymous with Hylixalus chocoensis, Colostethus chocoensis, and Hyloxalus chocoensis (Myers and Grant 2009).

The genus "Ectopoglossus" is derived from the Greek "ektopos", which means "away or out of a place" ("ek-" means “out” and "topos" means “place”), and "glossa", which means "tongue", in reference to this being a median lingual process-possessing clade that is found geographically and phylogenetically outside of the expected range (Grant et al. 2017).


Grant, T., M. Rada, M. A. Anganoy-Criollo, A. Batista, P. H. dos S. Dias, A. M. Jeckel, D. J. Machado, and J. V. Rueda-Almonacid (2017). ''Phylogenetic systematics of dart-poison frogs and their relatives revisited (Anura: Dendrobatoidea).'' South American Journal of Herpetology, 12 (specia, 1-90. [link]

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2018). ''Anomaloglossus confusus''. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T190980A1964135. Downloaded on 10 July 2020.

Myers, C.W., Grant, T. (2009). ''Anomaloglossus confusus, a new Ecuadorian frog formerly masquerading as 'Colostethus' chosoensis (Dendrobatidae: Aromobatidae).'' American Museum of Natural History, 3659, 1 - 12. [link]

Originally submitted by: Emily Moura, Nicole Duong (first posted 2016-10-20)
Description by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-03-17)
Distribution by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-03-17)
Trends and threats by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-03-17)
Comments by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-03-17)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2021-03-17)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Ectopoglossus confusus <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 14, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 14 Jun 2024.

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