Brachycephalidae Günther, 1858

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Superfamily: Brachycephaloidea > Family: Brachycephalidae
80 species

Brachycephalina Günther, 1858, Arch. Naturgesch., 24: 321. Type genus: Brachycephalus Fitzinger, 1826. Not explicitly stated to be a family-group name, but given that it is the only collective immediately above the genus, I (DRF) interpret this as a family-group name. 

Brachycephalina Günther, 1858, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1858: 344. Explicit Section, either in the family-group or above, but most likely above the family-group. See synonymy under Anura. 

Brachycephalidae Günther, 1858, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1858: 347; Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297: 197.

BrachycephalinaeNoble, 1931, Biol. Amph.: 507; Dubois, 2005, Alytes, 23: 11.

Brachycephaloidea — Padial, Grant, and Frost, 2014, Zootaxa, 3825: 49. Explicit superfamily to include Brachycephalidae, Craugastoridae, and Eleutherodactylidae. 

English Names

None noted.


Southern and central Brazil and adjacent northern Argentina.


McDiarmid, 1971, Sci. Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Los Angeles Co., 12: 1–66, and Izecksohn, 1971, Bol. Mus. Nac., Rio de Janeiro, N.S., Zool., 280: 1–12, removed Brachycephalus from Atelopodidae (the latter which McDiarmid placed in Bufonidae) and restricted the name Brachycephalidae to Brachycephalus as family of problematic relationships. Izecksohn, 1971, Bol. Mus. Nac., Rio de Janeiro, N.S., Zool., 280: 1–12, and Giaretta and Sawaya, 1998, Copeia, 1998: 987, noted that Brachycephalidae (sensu stricto) might be most closely related to Euparkerella (then in Eleutherodactylinae). Silva, Campos, and Sebben, 2007, Zootaxa, 1422: 59–68, suggested this view might be mistaken, as well as the formulation of the earlier Eleutherodactylinae and the genera that composed it, although they presented no evidence to reject the monophyly of this inclusive group. Eleutherodactylinae was considered a tribe within a paraphyletic Telmatobiinae by Lynch, 1971, Misc. Publ. Mus. Nat. Hist. Univ. Kansas, 53: 142. Subsequently considered a subfamily by Laurent, 1986, in Grassé and Delsol (eds.), Traite de Zool., 14: 418. Darst and Cannatella, 2004, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 31: 462–475, provided DNA sequence evidence of a close relationship of Brachycephalus to Eleutherodactylinae (sensu lato, now largely coextensive with Terrarana). Dubois, 2005, Alytes, 23: 4, noted that if the two are combined into a single taxon Brachycephalinae is an older name for Eleutherodactylinae. Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297, documented that Brachycephalidae (sensu stricto) is imbedded within Eleutherodactylinae and discussed the placement of the group within anurans and the lack of evidence of monophyly for most of the included genera, and applied the name for the inclusive group composed of former Eleutherodactylinae and Brachycephalidae, a move that resolved the taxonomic problem. See comment under Leptodactylidae. Heinicke, Duellman, and Hedges, 2007, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 104: 10092–10097, continued recognition of a paraphyletic Eleutherodactylinae in a paraphyletic "Leptodactylidae", but provided results consistent with the recognition of Brachycephalidae (sensu lato). They also provided a substantial realignment of generic boundaries based on a molecular study of many of the nominal genera. Hedges, Duellman, and Heinicke, 2008, Zootaxa, 1737: 1–182, on the basis of a larger molecular analysis, restricted the name Brachycephalidae to a monophyletic cluster of genera in southeastern Brazil and recognized Craugastoridae, Eleutherodactylidae, and Strabomantidae for the bulk of former Eleutherodactylinae, "Eleutherodactylus", and related genera and formed an unranked taxon name, Terrarana for the morphologically distinctive overall group that had been referred to as Brachycephalidae by Frost et al., 2006. The superfamiliarl name Brachycephaloidea is available for the content of Terrarana. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543–583, confirmed that Brachycephalidae is the sister taxon of Eleutherodactylidae + their Craugastoridae. Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39–55, discussed the changes in the application of the name Brachycephalidae. Vitt and Caldwell, 2014, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Taboada, Grant, Lynch, and Faivovich, 2013, Herpetologica, 69: 342–357, provided morphological synapomorphies for the Brachycephaloidea (= Terrarana) but could not find them for the contained Brachycephalidae, Craugastoridae, and Eleutherodactylidae. Padial, Grant, and Frost, 2014, Zootaxa, 3825: 1–132, discussed the phylogenetics of the family and its relationship to other members of Brachycephaloidea. Streicher, Miller, Guerrero, Correa-Quezada, Ortiz, Crawford, Pie, and Wiens, 2018, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 119: 128–143, reported on a molecular study of hyloid frogs, finding Brachycephalidae to be the sister taxon of Eleutherodactylidae + Craugastoridae, and part of a large monophyletic group composed of Brachycephaloidea, Allophrynidae, Centrolenidae, Dendrobatoideak Leptodactylidae, Odontophrynidae, and Bufonidae, which they termed Coummutabirana. Bornschein, Pie, and Teixeira, 2019, Diversity, 11 (150): 1–29, provided conservation status reports, employing IUCN criteria, on the Brazilian species. Barcelos and Santos, 2023, Paleodivers. Palaeoenvironm., 103: 341–405, reviewed the fossil localities and the literature of the fossil history of this group in South America.   

Contained taxa (80 sp.):

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