AmphibiaWeb - Sphenophryne miniafia


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Sphenophryne miniafia (Kraus, 2014)
family: Microhylidae
subfamily: Asterophryinae
genus: Sphenophryne
Species Description: Kraus F 2014 A new species of Liophryne (Anura: Microhylidae) from Papua New Guinea. J Herpetol 48: 255- 261.
Taxonomic Notes: We follow Rivera et al. (2017) in recognizing Genyophryne, Liophryne, and Oxydactyla as synonyms of Sphenophryne. We acknowledge the relationships among these species remain poorly resolved and there may be additional genus-level taxonomic changes in the future.
Rivera, J. A., F. Kraus, A. Allison, and M. A. Butler. 2017. Molecular phylogenetics and dating of the problematic New Guinea microhylid frogs (Amphibia: Anura) reveals elevated speciation rates and need for taxonomic reclassification. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 112: 1-11.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

A relatively large frog with a snout-vent length ranging from 32.6 – 43.6 mm in males and 43.0 – 45.9 mm in females. The head of this frog is greater in width than length and has a sharply sloped loreal region. The canthus is slightly rounded with a shallow outward bulge from a bird’s eye view. Located anterolaterally, near the snout, are the nostrils, which appear to be horizontally flattened. The distance from naris to eye is smaller than the internarial distance. The snout is slightly rounded from the side, though more distinctly rounded from above. It has fairly big eyes, which has a distance between roughly 1.5 times greater than the width of each eyelid. The tympanum is moderately sized, well defined, and with an obvious annulus. The dorsal part of this species contains a scapular region that has sets of rounded ridges on its skin. It has a mid-vertebral ridge and two distinct, curvaceous dorsolateral ridges that extend from behind the orbital region to the middle of its body. There are also many shorter ridges that run along the back and on the hindlimbs. Belly is smooth while sides are finely textured with bumps. The relative lengths of the unwebbed fingers are 3 > 4 > 2 > 1 and end with discs are slightly wider than the finger and that display a terminal groove. Fingers have distinct round subarticular tubercles and large inner and outer metacarpal tubercles. The legs are fairly long. The relative lengths of the unwebbed toes are 4 > 3 > 5 > 2 > 1. Toes also end with grooved discs, which are larger than those of the finger. The feet have obvious, round subarticular tubercles and distinct, small, oblong inner metatarsal tubercles, but no outer metatarsal tubercles (Kraus 2014).

Liophryne miniafia differs from other local Liophryne by the combination of not having vocal slits, a single note call, and calling from burrows. Liophryne miniafia is larger than L. allisoni, L. dentate, L. magnitympanum, and L. schlaginhaufeni but smaller than L. rhododactyla, L. similis; it is similar in size to L. rubra. Liophryne miniafia is the most likely to be confused with L. schlaginhaufeni, but they differ by L. miniafia having a shorter snout, no vocal slits, a indistinct or missing tubercle on the heal, and a low frequency single-note call. Further species differentiations are listed below. From L. allisoni, L. miniafia can be differentiated by having a defined tympanum and single-note call of lower frequency. From L. dentate, L. miniafia can be differentiated by having an acute canthus rostralis, almost perpendicular loreal region, a straight postocular fold, and irises that are brown in the lower half. From L. magnitympanum, it can be differentiated by having lower frequency and quicker pulsed calls. From L. rhododactyla, it can differentiated by having a larger (both in width and length) snout, wider finger discs, no vocal slits, and having a lower frequency, pulsed call. From L. rubra, L. miniafia can be differentiated by having dorsal ridges on the body and hindlimbs, brown spotted-patterning on the chin and throat, and a back of brown to orange-brown coloring. From L. similis, L. miniafia can be differentiated by having longer legs, broader snout, wider discs on the toes, a venter with pale background and brown spots, and a single-pulsed note call (Kraus 2014).

In life, Liophryne miniafia has a dark brown face that lightens around the lip. There is a dark brown strip that leads from the eye to the equally dark brown tympanum. A curved line of lighter brown that wraps clockwise over the tympanum separates the brown strip and brown of the face. The internarial region, lorael region, and dorsum are uniform in color, which varies from brown to yellow or ochre and can be blotched with tan markings. The legs have thin dark-brown bars across the dorsal surface. The throat, chin, and ventral side of thighs have a dark gray background speckled with pale-gray markings. The thighs have a dark brown spot on the rear underside of the thighs. The ventral side of the shanks and groin range from red to orange. The irises are brown and contain a metallic green luster. When preserved, the dorsum becomes a uniform medium brown and circular pale yellow markings become indistinctly visible on the lumbar region. The face remains a darker brown to the tympanum. The venter remains more lightly colored and meets the darker dorsum coloring along the dorsolateral skin folds, ending at the insertion of the forearm. Between the eyes and the tympanums is a small paler brown patch. Leg bands are retained with the rear of the thigh becoming a lighter brown from above and dark brown below. Both forearms have a poorly defined dark brown spot and fingers and toes also have small irregular dark brown spots that concentrate at the tips. The background color of the ventrum is pale yellow and the markings on the throat, chin, and under legs darken to a dark brown. There are no markings on the abdomen. The palms and soles of the feet are dark brown. The irises become dark brown with brass colored speckles (Kraus 2014).

Juveniles may have longer snouts, wider heads, and larger eyes than adults. The presence of a small heel tubercle is variable. This species ranges in dorsal color and markings. There is also variation in the amount of red coloration on the ventral side of the shanks and groin area. The circular spots on the lumbar region are also variable and more likely absent in juveniles. The uniform nature of facemask is also variable, with some being uniform in coloration and others having pale venters that creates a broad strip from the nose to the tympanum. Juveniles tended to have more spotting on the ventrum, leading the species authority to believe the spotting is ontogenetic and fades with age. Some individuals have broken, pale, thin lines along the vertebrae, pectorals, and middle of the vent, which is broken by ventral spotting (Kraus 2014).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Papua New Guinea


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Liophryne miniafia can be found on the south side of Mt. Trafalgar in Southeastern Papua New Guinea at elevations of 830 – 1,045 m. Its habitat consists of mid-montane wet forests with deep layers of plant litter. The forest is characterized by 20 m high open canopy, emergent vegetation up to 25 m, and the dominate plants being large bamboo, screw pines, palms, melastomas, and moss. The frog is assumed to inhabit higher elevations of Mt. Trafalgar and the upper slopes of Mt. Victory as well, but those sites have yet to be surveyed. The species is also believed to be endemic to Cape Nelson (Kraus 2014).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Frogs of this genus are poorly understood and thus little is known about the individual species. However, L. miniafia was found on the forest floor, active or calling at night. Calls were from burrows or depressions in compacted plant litter or soil. Calls from two individuals were recorded and found to have intermittent, single-pulsed, soft trill calls that ranged in length from 260 – 354 ms. The time between calls ranged from 2.60 – 19.83 seconds during recording, but appeared more frequent in the wild. The note has an oval amplitude envelope and is clearly pulsed in the first half and continuous in the second. The note also has three distinctly developed harmonics with minor increases in frequency toward the end. The dominant frequency ranged from 657 – 726 Hz (Kraus 2014).

This species, Liophryne miniafia, was named after the local indigenous people of the Miniafia tribe who live on the south side of Mt. Trafalgar and Mt. Victory and helped the authors of the species authority during two expeditions to the area (Kraus 2014).

Please see the taxonomic note regarding its synonymy with Sphenophryne.


Kraus, F. (2014). ''A new species of Liophryne (Anura: Microhylidae) from Papua New Guinea.'' Journal of Herpetology, 48(2), 255-261.

Originally submitted by: Ann T. Chang and 2014 URAPs (first posted 2014-10-20)
Description by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-06-05)
Life history by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-06-05)
Comments by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-06-05)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang, Michelle S. Koo (2021-06-05)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Sphenophryne miniafia <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 28, 2023.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 28 Sep 2023.

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