AmphibiaWeb - Stumpffia davidattenboroughi


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Stumpffia davidattenboroughi Rakotoarison, Scherz, Glaw, Köhler, Andreone, Franzen, Glos, Hawlitschek, Jono, Mori et al., 2017
family: Microhylidae
subfamily: Cophylinae
genus: Stumpffia
Species Description: Rakotoarison A, Scherz MD, Glaw F, Koehler J, Andreone F, Franzen M, Glos J, Hawlitschek O, Jono T, Mori A, Ndriantsoa SH, Raminosa NR, Riemann JC, Roedel M-O, Rosa GM, Fieites DR, Crottini A, Vences M 2017 Describing the smaller majority: integrative taxonomy reveals twenty-six new species of tiny microhylid frogs (genus Stumpffia) from Madagascar. Vertebrate Zoology Senckenberg 67:271-398.

© 2017 Gonçalo M. Rosa (1 of 2)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Critically Endangered (CR) - Provisional
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Stumpffia davidattenboroughi is a miniaturized species that is described from one preserved male specimen. The holotype had a snout-vent length of 11.72 mm. The body is slender with a head that is longer than wide but narrower than the body. The snout is slightly pointed in dorsal view but rounded in the ventral view. The nostrils are located closer to the snout than the eyes, are laterally-directed, and do not protrude. The canthus rostralis is not distinct. The loreal region is concave and oblique. The tympanum is distinct and is approximately 80% of the diameter of the eye. The supratympanic fold is not distinct. The tongue is long, broadens posteriorly, is not notche, and attached anteriorly. Both maxillary and vomerine teeth are absent. The forelimbs are slender. The outer metacarpal tubercle is indistinct, while the inner metacarpal tubercle is distinct, oval-shaped, and fused with the prepollical tubercule. The fingers have no webbing, no discs, and are highly reduced. The first finger has strong reduction. The second and fourth finger are short, but not as reduced as the first finger. The relative finger lengths are 1 < 2 < 4 < 3 with the fourth finger only being slightly longer than the second. The subarticular tubercles are distinct and single. The hind limbs are slender. The tibia length is approximately 30% of the snout-vent length. The outer metatarsal tubercle is absent. The inner metatarsal tubercle is small and round. The toes have no webbing but are strongly connected at the lateral metatarsalia. The first toe is absent and the others are reduced. The second and fifth toes strongly reduced in length. The relative toe lengths are 2 < 5 < 3 < 4. Terminal phalanges of toes lack enlarged discs but are slightly expand at the tips. Like the hands, the subarticular tubercles are single and distinct. The foot and hand are relatively the same length. The dorsum is smooth in texture with no obvious dorsolateral folds. The skin on the ventrum skin is also smooth (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

Stumpffia davidattenboroughi is differentiated from all other Stumpffia by its pattern of digital reduction. Specifically, the absent first toe and length reduction in the second toe distinguishes S. davidattenboroughi from all Stumpffia except S. tetradactyla. The degree of reduction differentiates S. davidattenboroughi from S. tetradactyla. Additionally, the first finger reduction can only be found in S. miery, which does have a first toe (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

In life, the small frog is dorsally dichromatic colored. On the dorsum there is a mocha-colored teddy bear shape that is bordered with a thick champagne colored stripe that starts at the anterior head and extends to the lateral edges. The flanks are darker in color with small, lighter iridescent spots or flecks. The forelimbs start as a darker brown on the dorsal surface before becoming copper above the elbow and transitioning back to brown in the distal region. Little iridescent flecks or spots are present on the hand. The hind limbs are trichromatic. From the hip to the middle of the shank is mocha colored. At the mid-shank there is a dark crossband that is surrounded by a thin champagne line. From the mid-shank band the leg becomes coppery-orange in color. At the tarsus, a weakly colored crossband in present. The dorsal foot has irregular iridescent flecks or spots. The coloration of the ventrum in life is unknown (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

In preservation, following three years in 70% ethanol, the dorsum is a metallic brown with the same brown teddy bear shape starting from the middle of the eye to the inguinal region. At the inguinal region there is a dark brown spot is surrounded with a lighter brown line. The dorsum of the head is metallic brown in coloration with a beige line that connects the eyes and the defining teddy bear shape. The nostril is wrapped with beige coloration. The lateral side is homogeneously dark brown with small, light brown to beige spots. The coloration on the flank merges into the brown ventrum, which is flecked with beige. The chin is brown with beige spots. It has relatively fewer spots than other ventral parts of the frog. The shank, tarsus, foot, and ventral surfaces of the thigh and arm are the same coloration as the ventrum. The dorsal surface of the thigh is beige with brown spots and a darker crossband that is bordered with a lighter white line. The posterodorsal surface of the thigh is also beige with spots that are dark brown. There are darker brown oval shaped spots bordered with a white line that is close to the cloacal region. The shank of the frog is beige with brown spots and a dark crossband that is surrounded with a white line. The distal portion of the shank is pink and merges with the color of the tarsus. The feet, including the toes, are the similar in coloration to the tarsus, but darker. The arms of the frog are beige with some pink. The hands’ dorsomedial surface is beige (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

The species was described from one specimen and thus variation is unknown.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
This species was found on the north-eastern side of the island of Madagascar. Stumpffia davidattenboroughi is only known from its locality in the Betampona Strict Nature Reserve, in Sahambendrana, Toamasina Province, Madagascar. The holotype was found in lowland forested habitat. The locality of the species found is at 558 meters above sea level (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Stumpffia davidattenboroughieither has low abundance, is difficult to find, or both. Four amphibian surveys have been conducted (27 February - 23 March 2004, 3 February - 2 April 2007, 25 October - 16 December 2007, 3 November - 25 November 2013) that included molecular taxonomic identification. Of all of the Stumpffia collected, only one was identified as this species (Rakotoarison et al. 2017). Because of the difficulty finding this species, little is known about its life history.

The holotype of this species was found during the daytime guarding a jelly nest. The egg clutch was on a dry, curled leaf that was covered by another leaf, providing protection from potential predators and a humid microhabitat for the eggs. The embryos were not sampled, so it is not for certain that the eggs were the same species. If they are, this species would be the first species in the Stumpffia genus to have jelly nests rather foam nests (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

Trends and Threats
Because the extent of species occurrence is less than 26 kilometers squared and the lowland forested habitat faces anthropogenic pressure, it has been proposed that S. davidattenboroughi be listed as “Critically Endangered” by IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Habitat fragmentation
Loss of genetic diversity from small population phenomena

The species authority is: Rakotoarison, A., Scherz, M.D., Glaw, F., Köhler, J., Andreone, F., Franzen, M., Glos, J., Hawlitschek, O., Jono, T., Mori, A., Ndriantsoa, S.H., Raminosoa, N.R., Riemann, J.C., Rödel, M., Rosa, G.M., Vieites, D.R., Crottini, A., Vences, M. (2017). “Describing the smaller majority: integrative taxonomy reveals twenty-six new species of tiny microhylid frogs (genus Stumpffia) from Madagascar.” Vertebrate Zoology, 67:271-398.

Based on Maximum Likelihood analysis of 657 basepairs of 16s rRNA gene, S. davidattenboroughi is sister to S.obscoena (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

Stumpffia davidattenboroughi was assigned to a weakly supported clade with S. miery, S. obscoena, and S. meikeae based on genetics, morphology, and biogeography. The first three species display small-size or miniaturization and digit reduction, however, S. meikeae is large-sized and does not have digit reduction. Additionally, S. meikeae is found in a different geographic area than the other three species (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

This species was named in honor of Sir David Attenborough to celebrate his 91st birthday on 8 May 2017. At the time of the species’ naming, Sir David had committed 65 years of his career to science communication through natural history broadcasting with the BBC. He was recognized for being a devoted ambassador for not only the island of Madagascar and its wildlife but wildlife around the globe (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).

At the time of its description, only one specimen of S. davidattenboroughi had been found despite extensive amphibian surveys (Rakotoarison et al. 2017).


Rakotoarison, A., Scherz, M.D., Glaw, F., Köhler, J., Andreone, F., Franzen, M., Glos, J., Hawlitschek, O., Jono, T., Mori, A., Ndriantsoa, S.H., Raminosoa, N.R., Riemann, J.C., Rödel, M., Rosa, G.M., Vieites, D.R., Crottini, A., Vences, M. (2017). "Describing the smaller majority: integrative taxonomy reveals twenty-six new species of tiny microhylid frogs (genus Stumpffia) from Madagascar." Vertebrate Zoology, 67(3), 271-398. [link]

Originally submitted by: Madeleine Levy (first posted 2018-06-19)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2018-06-19)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2018 Stumpffia davidattenboroughi <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 22, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Apr 2024.

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