Poyntonophrynus Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Bufonidae > Genus: Poyntonophrynus
15 species

English Names

Pygmy Toads (Channing and Rödel, 2019, Field Guide Frogs & Other Amph. Afr.: 78).


Arid lowlands of Somalia through eastern and southern Ethiopia to eastern South Sudan and Kenya; thence south through Tanzania to Angola, northern Namibia, Botswana, Rep. South Africa, and Swaziland; possibly to northern Uganda.


Poyntonophrynus is the former Bufo vertebralis group of Blair, 1972, Evol. Genus Bufo: 356. See Bufonidae record for access to relevant literature that would have addressed these species as part of African "Bufo". Smith and Chiszar, 2006, Herpetol. Conserv. Biol., 1: 6–8, implied that this taxon should be considered a subgenus of Bufo; see comment under Bufonidae. Van Bocxlaer, Biju, Loader, and Bossuyt, 2009, BMC Evol. Biol., 9 (e131): 1–10, did not address this genus, but in a subsequent analysis Van Bocxlaer, Loader, Roelants, Biju, Menegon, and Bossuyt, 2010, Science, 327: 679–682, suggested that Poyntonophrynus is the sister taxon of Mertensophryne. See comment under Amietophrynus urunguensis, which likely belongs in this taxon. Du Preez and Carruthers, 2009, Compl. Guide Frogs S. Afr.: 156–171, provided a key and accounts for the species of southern Africa. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543–583, provided interesting results that suggests that Poyntonophrynus is polyphyletic, with Poytonophrynus vertebralis, the type of the genus, being imbedded withint Amietophrynus and the other exemplars of nominal Poyntonophrynus (Poytonophrynus fenoulheti, Poytonophrynus dombensis, and Poytonophrynus damaranus) forming a monophyletic group that is the likely sister taxon of Mertensophryne. Given the morphologically compact nature of Poyntonophrynus, this result of polyphyly begs to be evaluated carefully. The molecular data (12S and 16S mtDNA only) employed by Pyron and Wiens (2011) for "Bufo" vertebralis were provided by Graybeal, 1997, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 119: 297–338. Cunningham and Cherry, 2004, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 32: 681, noted that Graybeal's 12S DNA sequences of her Bufo vertebralis (U52730; employed by Pyron and Wiens, 2011, who apparently were unaware of the Cunningham and Cherry, 2004, paper) are actually of Amietophrynus maculatus, and they caste doubt on all of her 16S sequences. So, for the moment, one has to entertain the possibility of the polyphyly of Poyntonophrynus, but the alternative, that this result is based on misidentified sequences seems to be the more likely explanation. Channing, Rödel, and Channing, 2012, Tadpoles of Africa: 150–152, reported on comparative tadpole morphology. Ceríaco, Marques, Bandeira, Agarwal, Stanley, Bauer, Heinicke, and Blackburn, 2018, ZooKeys, 780: 106–136, provided a ML tree of the species. Liedtke, Müller, Hafner, Penner, Gower, Mazuch, Rödel, and Loader, 2017, Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. B, Biol. Sci., 284 (20162598): 6, via a Bayesian analysis in BEAST, suggested that Poyntonophrynus is nonmonophyletic with respect to Mertensophryne, although they did not make the remedial taxonomic change. Ceríaco, Marques, Bandeira, Agarwal, Stanley, Bauer, Heinicke, and Blackburn, 2018, ZooKeys, 780: 109–136, discussed the molecular phylogenetics of the species, and also recovered Poyntonophrynus lughensis as the sister taxon of Mertensophryne, but also discussed why this result should be viewed with some caution pending additional data collection. Channing and Rödel, 2019, Field Guide Frogs & Other Amph. Afr.: 78–83, provided brief accounts, photographs, and range maps for the species. Baptista, Vaz Pinto, Keates, Lobón-Rovira, Edwards, and Rödel, 2023, Vert. Zool., Senckenberg, 73: 991–1031, provided a molecular tree of the species that implied the paraphyly of Poyntonophrynus with respect to Mertensophryne, a conclusion they discussed (p. 1025) but considered preliminary, needing additional evidence before a taxonomic remedy was made.  

Contained taxa (15 sp.):

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