Microhylidae Günther, 1858 (1843)

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Microhylidae
749 species

Hylaedactyli Fitzinger, 1843, Syst. Rept.: 33. Type genus: Hylaedactylus Duméril and Bibron, 1841.

Gastrophrynae Fitzinger, 1843, Syst. Rept.: 33. Type genus: Gastrophryne Fitzinger, 1843. Synonymy by Parker, 1934, Monogr. Frogs Fam. Microhylidae: 71.

HylaedactylidaeBonaparte, 1850, Conspect. Syst. Herpetol. Amph.: 1 p.; Günther, 1858, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1858: 346.

HylaedactylinaBonaparte, 1850, Conspect. Syst. Herpetol. Amph.: 1 p.

Micrhylidae Günther, 1858, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1858: 346. Type genus: Micrhyla Duméril and Bibron, 1841, an incorrect subsequent spelling of Microhyla Tschudi, 1838.

MichrylidaeFatio, 1872, Fauna Vert. Suisse, 3: 230. [sic] Incorrect subsequent spelling of Microhylidae. 

HylaedactylidaKnauer, 1878, Naturgesch. Lurche: 112.

Engystomatidarum Boulenger, 1887, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Ser. 5, 20: 50–53. Type genus: Engystoma Fitzinger, 1826. Synonymy by Parker, 1934, Monogr. Frogs Fam. Microhylidae: 71. See comment under Engystoma Fitzinger, 1826.

Eleutherognathinae Méhely, 1901, Termés. Füzetek, 24: 219. Type species: Not designated. Unavailable family-group name to include all Engystomatidae excluding Symphignathinae (part of current Asterophryinae).

GastrophrynidaeMetcalf, 1923, Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus., 120: 25.

GastrophryninaeMetcalf, 1923, Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus., 120: 274; Laurent, 1986, in Grassé and Delsol (eds.), Traite de Zool., 14: 744.

KalophryninaeNoble, 1931, Biol. Amph.: 451.

MicrohylinaeNoble, 1931, Biol. Amph.: 451.

Cacopinae Noble, 1931, Biol. Amph.: 532. Type genus: Cacopus Günther, 1864. Synonymy by Parker, 1934, Monogr. Frogs Fam. Microhylidae: 71.

Kaloulinae Noble, 1931, Biol. Amph.: 538. Type genus: Kaloula Gray, 1831. Synonymy by Parker, 1934, Monogr. Frogs Fam. Microhylidae: 71.

KaloulidaeParker, 1934, Monogr. Frogs Fam. Microhylidae: 16.

MicrohylidaeParker, 1934, Monogr. Frogs Fam. Microhylidae: i.

MicrohyloideaLaurent, 1967, Acta Zool. Lilloana, 22: 208; Duellman, 1975, Occas. Pap. Mus. Nat. Hist. Univ. Kansas, 42: 5.

Otophryninae Wassersug and Pyburn, 1987, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 91: 166. Type genus: Otophryne Boulenger, 1900.

MicrohyloidaeDubois, 1992, Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Lyon, 61: 309. Epifamily.

GastrophryniniDubois, 2005, Alytes, 23: 15.

MicrohyliniDubois, 2005, Alytes, 23: 15.

English Names

Narrow-mouthed Frogs (Ananjeva, Borkin, Darevsky, and Orlov, 1988, Dict. Amph. Rept. Five Languages: 93).

Narrow-mouthed Toads (Ananjeva, Borkin, Darevsky, and Orlov, 1988, Dict. Amph. Rept. Five Languages: 93; Stebbins, 2003, Field Guide W. Rept. Amph., Ed. 3: 242).

Narrowmouth Toads (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 87).


North and South America; Subsaharan Africa; India and Korea to northern Australia.


For purposes of priority Microhylidae takes the date 1843 from Hylaedactyli (based on Hylaedactylus [= Kaloula]) and Gastrophrynae (based on Gastrophryne; formerly a junior synonym of Microhyla) of Fitzinger, 1843, Syst. Rept.: 33, under the provisions of Article 40 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (1999). Griffiths, 1963, Biol. Rev. Cambridge Philos. Soc., 38: 241–292; Lynch, 1973, in Vial (ed.), Evol. Biol. Anurans: 133–182; and Trueb, 1973, in Vial (ed.), Evol. Biol. Anurans: 65–132, placed Microhylidae phylogenetically near Ranidae; this view was disputed by Starrett, 1973, in Vial (ed.), Evol. Biol. Anurans: 251–271, on the basis of larval features, and by Savage, 1973, in Vial (ed.), Evol. Biol. Anurans: 351–445, who followed Starrett. Sokol, 1975, Copeia, 1975: 1–23, also studying larvae, disagreed with Starrett and concurred with more popular views; but see Pyburn, 1980, Pap. Avulsos Zool., São Paulo, 33: 231–238. Blommers-Schlösser, 1975, Beaufortia, 24: 14, noted that the morphological intermediacy of Scaphiophryninae supported the view that Microhylidae was most closely related to Ranidae (sensu lato). van der Meijden, Vences, and Meyer, 2004, Proc. R. Soc. London, B—Suppl. Biol. Lett., 271: S378–S381, showed that Brevicipitidae is not included in Microhylidae. 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, provided a discussion of taxonomic history, and also provided a partial revision of Microhylidae, evident here. (See comment under Microhylinae, in particular, for a summary of the changes suggested by these authors.) Accounts and keys to most of the genera are supplied by Laurent, 1986, in Grassé and Delsol (eds.), Traite de Zool., 14. Barker, Grigg, and Tyler, 1995, Field Guide Aust. Frogs., Ed. 2, provide keys and accounts for Australian species. Manthey and Grossmann, 1997, Amph. Rept. Südostasiens: 45–67, provided accounts and keys to the species of the Sunda Shelf. Malkmus, Manthey, Vogel, Hoffmann, and Kosuch, 2002, Amph. Rept. Mount Kinabalu: 115–116, provided a key to th genera of Borneo. See comment under Hemisotidae. Roelants, Gower, Wilkinson, Loader, Biju, Guillaume, Moriau, and Bossuyt, 2007, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 104: 887–892, provided evidence of phylogeny within Microhylidae, as did van der Meijden, Vences, Hoegg, Boistel, Channing, and Meyer, 2007, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 44: 1017–1030. Fei, Hu, Ye, and Huang, 2009, Fauna Sinica, Amph. 2: 868–957, provided accounts and spot maps for the species of China. Bossuyt and Roelants, 2009, in Hedges and Kumar (eds.), Timetree of Life: 357–364, considered the constituent subfamilies to be families on the basis of their suggested Mesozoic origins. Matsui, Hamidy, Belabut, Ahmad, Panha, Sudin, Khonsue, Oh, Yong, Jiang, and Nishikawa, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 167–176, reported on the mtDNA phylogenetics of the Asian components of the family. On a much larger dataset (although relatively sparse sampling) Kurabayashi, Matsui, Belabut, Yong, Ahmad, Sudin, Kuramoto, Hamidy, and Sumida, 2011, BMC Evol. Biol., 11(175): 1–12, suggested a topology (Phrynomerinae +((Hoplophryninae +((Scaphiophryninae + Cophylinae) + Gastrophryninae) + (Kalophryninae + ((Gastrophrynoides + (Asterophryinae + (Dyscophinae + Microhylinae))))), including only their exemplars and showing some instability when Melanobatrachus is including in the analysis. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543–583, in their study of Genbank sequences provided the largest analysis to date suggesting a topology of Phrynomerinae + (Otophryninae + ((Gastrophryninae + (Hoplophryninae + Cophylinae)) + (Scaphiophryninae + (Kalophryninae + (Asterophryinae + Melanobatrachinae)) + (Dyscophinae + Microhylinae))))); they also provided an extensive tree of species relationships that can be difficult to interpret given their adoption of an archaic nonmonophyletic taxonomy. Trueb, Diaz, and Blackburn, 2011, Phyllomedusa, 10: 99–135, reported on osteological characteristics of Gastrophryninae and Otophryninae. Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39–55, briefly reviewed the taxonomic history of this taxon. de Sá, Streicher, Sekonyela, Forlani, Loader, Greenbaum, Richards, and Haddad, 2012, BMC Evol. Biol., 12(241): 1–21, reported on the phylogenetics of the family, {Microhylinae + Dyscophinae}{Gastrophryninae [Asterophryinae (Cophylinae (Phrynomerinae (Otophryninae + Kalophryninae)))]}. They also redelimited a number of South American genera.Vitt and Caldwell, 2014, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Peloso, Frost, Richards, Rodrigues, Donnellan, Matsui, Raxworthy, Biju, Lemmon, Lemmon, and Wheeler, 2016, Cladistics, 32: 1–111, reported on a phylogenetic analysis of Microhylidae, corroborating the subfamilies, but noting generic level paraphyly that resulted in a substantial number of taxonomic changes. Tu, Yang, Liang, and Zhang, 2018, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 126: 85–91, also provided a large-scale phylogeny of Microhylidae based on a large amount of evidence, analyzed using maximum likelihood which provided substantially different inter-subfamily results from the direct optimization results of Peloso, Frost, Richards, Rodrigues, Donnellan, Matsui, Raxworthy, Biju, Lemmon, Lemmon, and Wheeler, 2016, Cladistics, 32: 1–111. Because I (DRF) would rather accept results that optimize on homologies rather than longer trees optimized on ML scores (see Wheeler, 2012, Systematics), I've retained the Peloso et al. taxonomy. However, users need to be aware that the level of topological differences between these two studies is remarkably wide, suggesting that the "truth" of the inferred structure within and among genera leave something to be desired, despite the dense taxon and evidence sampling of both studies. Yuan, Zhang, Raxworthy, Weisrock, Hime, Jin, Lemmon, Lemmon, Holland, Kortyna, Zhou, Peng, Che, and Prendini, 2018, Natl. Sci. Rev., Beijing, 6: 10–14, reported on phylogenetics and biogeography as an element of Natatanura. Targino, Elias-Costa, Taboada, and Faivovich, 2019, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 187: 479–493, reported on vocal sac diversity and evolution in the family. Streicher, Loader, Varela-Jaramillo, Montoya, and de Sá, 2020, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 146 (106771): 1–8, reported on the molecular phylogenetics of the family. Elias-Costa, Araujo-Vieira, and Faivovich, 2021, Cladistics, 37: 498–517, discussed the evolution of submandibular musculature optimized on the tree of Jetz and Pyron, 2018, Nature Ecol. & Evol., 2: 850–858, which provided morphological synapomorphies of this taxon. Cyriac, Mohan, Dinesh, Torsekar, Jayarajan, Swamy, Vijayakumar, and Shanker, 2024, Evolution, 78: 701–715, reported on the molecular phylogenetics of ranoid frogs with special reference to the diversification within the Western Ghats of South India.     

Contained taxa (749 sp.):

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