236 species in 4 genera
Commonly Called New World Rain Frogs
An adult Eleutherodactylus iberia, one of the smallest known frogs at just 10.5 mm
Photo by Ansel Fong
(Click for family gallery)
This family is an assemblage of four genera of direct-developing frogs found throughout the West Indies, in peninsular Florida (where it may be either native or introduced), and from southern Texas (USA) south to northwestern Ecuador, with some genera in northeastern South America and in the Amazon Basin. Frogs of the family Eleutherodactylidae range in size from 10.5 mm snout-vent length in female Eleutherodactylus iberia to 88 mm in female Eleutherodactylus inoptatus (Hedges et al. 2008). Eleutherodactylus iberia is one of the smallest frogs in the world. Miniaturization has occurred across five families of frogs (Brachycephalidae, Eleutherodactylidae, Leptodactylidae, Microhylidae, and Sooglossidae), and with it come constraints in morphological development, including digital reduction and loss of vomerine teeth. Miniaturized frog species also tend to have high-frequency calls (>5 kHz) and to have clutches with very small numbers of eggs (sometimes only one egg).
An unusual species is Eleutherodactylus jasperi, the only ovoviviparous eleutherodactylid, which retains developing embryos within eggs in the oviduct, giving birth to live froglets. This species is endemic to southern Puerto Rico, but is thought to be extinct as it has not been seen since 1981.
Written by AmphibiaWeb
Notable Family Characteristics
- Inhabits forests and heavy vegetation
- Internal fertilization in at least a few species (Eleutherodactylus coqui, E. jasperi)
- Eggs are deposited terrestrially or arboreally and undergo direct development; ovoviviparity exists in at least one species (Eleutherodactylus jasperi)
- Amplexus axillary
- Species in this family share the following characters: (1) cartilaginous sternum; (2) vertebral shield not present; (3) transverse processes of posterior presacral vertebrae not expanded broadly; (4) cervical cotyles widely spaced; (5) eight presacral vertebrae, with Presacrals I and II not fused; (6) cranial elements not co-ossified with overlying skin; (7) omosternum present; (8) sacral diapophyses rounded to barely dilated; (9) maxillary arch usually dentate, with blunt, pedicellate teeth; (10) alary processes of premaxillae broadened at base, usually directed dorsally or posterodorsally; (11) palatal shelf of premaxilla usually broad, may be indented or not; (12) pars facialis of maxilla usually deep, not exostosed; (13) palatal shelf of maxilla moderately broad, may bear pterygoid process or not; (14) maxillary arch complete; maxillae tapering posteriorly; quadratojugal slender; (15) nasals usually large with broad median contact; (16) nasals usually not in contact with maxillae or pterygoids; (17) nasals not in contact with frontoparietals; (18) frontoparietal fontanelle usually absent; (19) frontoparietals usually not exostosed; cranial crests present in some Eleutherodactylus; (20) frontoparietals fused with prootics or not; (21) temporal arcade absent; (22) epiotic eminences prominent to indistinct; (23) carotid artery passes dorsal to cranial elements; (24) zygomatic ramus of squamosal broad to slender, usually not in contact with maxilla; (25) otic ramus of squamosal short to elongate, may be expanded into otic plate or not; (26) squamosal-maxilla angle 44 - 67°; (27) columella present, except in fenestra ovalis directed laterally; (28) vomers varying in size; dentigerous processes absent in Eleutherodactylus (subgenus Syrrhophus), and some diminutive species of Eleutherodactylus (subgenus Euhyas); (29) neopalatines usually broad; slender in Eleutherodactylus (subgenus Syrrhophus); (30) sphenethmoid usually entire, divided in some Eleutherodactylus (subgenus Syrrhophus); (31) anterior ramus of parasphenoid narrow to broad, no keel; (32) parasphenoid alae either present at right angle to axis of skull or deflected posteriorly, usually not overlapped by pterygoids; (33) pterygoid lacks ventral flange; anterior ramus does not reach neopalatine; (34) occipital condyles small to large, widely separated medially, may be stalked or not; (35) odontoids lacking; (36) terminal phalanges T-shaped; (37) usually three phalanges in Finger IV (two in some Adelophryne); (38) Toe I fully developed and free; (39) alary process of hyoid plate may be on slender stalk or not; (40) mandibular ramus of trigeminal nerve passes lateral to the m. adductor mandibulae (condition unknown in Adelophryne); (41) prominent external body glands usually absent, though lumbar glands are present in some Eleutherodactylus; (42) males have single or paired subgular vocal sac, single pectoral vocal sac, or no vocal sac; (43) males have vocal slits (or not) and lack nuptial pads; (44) hands unwebbed; feet usually unwebbed or webbed basally, but foot webbing is extensive in some Eleutherodactylus; (45) terminal digits usually expanded with pads set off by distinct circumferential grooves; digits apically pointed in Adelophryne and some Diasporus; grooves present only laterally in Phyzelaphryne; (46) inner and outer metatarsal tubercles present, inner tubercle not spade-like; (47) tympanic membrane and annulus well differentiated or not
- Distribution through the Caribbean, including Florida and southern Texas in the United States, Central America and south to Ecuador, and the Amazon Basin in Brazil.
Cartography Credit: Zoe Yoo, UC Berkeley
Range maps sources: AmphibiaWeb, UC Berkeley, and IUCN RedList
Hedges, S. B., Duellman, W. E., and Heinicke, M. P. (2008). New World direct-developing frogs (Anura: Terrarana): Molecular phylogeny, classification, biogeography, and conservation. Zootaxa 1737: 1-182.
Pough, F. H., R. M. Andrews, M. L. Crump, A. H. Savitzky, K. D. Wells, and M. C. Brandley. 2015. Herpetology. Fourth Edition. Massachusetts: Sinauer.
Vitt, L. J., and J. P. Caldwell. 2013. Herpetology. An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Fourth Edition. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Subfamily Eleutherodactylinae (222 species)
Genus Diasporus (16 species) [subfamily Eleutherodactylinae]
Diasporus amirae no account no photos no sound/video Diasporus anthrax no account photos no sound/video Diasporus citrinobapheus account photos sound/video Diasporus darienensis account no photos no sound/video Diasporus diastema no account photos no sound/video Diasporus gularis no account photos no sound/video Diasporus hylaeformis no account photos no sound/video Diasporus igneus no account photos sound/video Diasporus majeensis no account no photos no sound/video Diasporus pequeno account no photos no sound/video Diasporus quidditus no account photos no sound/video Diasporus sapo no account no photos no sound/video Diasporus tigrillo no account no photos no sound/video Diasporus tinker no account photos no sound/video Diasporus ventrimaculatus no account photos no sound/video Diasporus vocator no account photos no sound/video
Genus Eleutherodactylus (206 species) [subfamily Eleutherodactylinae]
Subfamily Phyzelaphryninae (14 species)Genus Adelophryne (12 species) [subfamily Phyzelaphryninae]
Adelophryne adiastola account photos no sound/video Adelophryne amapaensis no account no photos no sound/video Adelophryne baturitensis no account no photos no sound/video Adelophryne glandulata account photos no sound/video Adelophryne gutturosa account photos no sound/video Adelophryne maranguapensis account no photos no sound/video Adelophryne meridionalis no account no photos no sound/video Adelophryne michelin no account no photos no sound/video Adelophryne mucronatus no account photos no sound/video Adelophryne nordestina no account no photos no sound/video Adelophryne pachydactyla no account no photos no sound/video Adelophryne patamona no account no photos no sound/video
Genus Phyzelaphryne (2 species) [subfamily Phyzelaphryninae]
Phyzelaphryne miriamae account photos no sound/video Phyzelaphryne nimio no account no photos no sound/video
Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: https://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed:
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