Temporal range: Miocene - Present, 24–0Ma
|Eastern narrowmouth toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)|
|Distribution of Microhylidae (in black)|
As suggested by their name, microhylids are mostly small frogs. Many species are below 1.5 cm (0.59 in) in length, although some species are as large as 9 cm (3.5 in). They can be arboreal or terrestrial, and some will even live close to water. The ground-dwellers are often found under leaf litter within forests, occasionally venturing out at night to hunt. The two main shapes for the microhylids are wide bodies and narrow mouths and normal frog proportions. Those with narrow mouths generally eat termites and ants, and the others have diets typical of most frogs. The species of the genus Breviceps are burrowing frogs found in the arid regions of Africa. Some of these species will even lay their eggs under ground.
The microhylids of New Guinea and Australia completely bypass the tadpole stage, with direct development from egg to frog. The arboreal species can therefore lay the eggs within the trees, and never need venture to the ground. Where species do have tadpoles, these almost always lack the teeth or horny beaks typical of the tadpoles of other families.
The skull has paired palatines and frontoparietals. The facial nerve passes through the anterior acoustic foramen in the auditory capsule; the trigeminal and facial nerve ganglia are fused to form a prootic ganglion. The eight (or seven) presacral holochordal vertebrae are all precoelous except for a biconcave surface on last presacral. The pectoral girdle is firmisternal and some show reduced clavicle and procoracoids. The terminal phalanges are blunt, pointed, or T-shaped. The tadpole lacks keratinized mouth parts and has a large spiracular chamber emptied by a caudomedial spiracle.
Frogs from Microhylidae occur throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of North America, South America, Africa, eastern India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, through New Guinea and Australia. Although most are found in tropical or subtropical regions, a few species can be found in arid or nontropical areas. They are the majority frog species in New Guinea and Madagascar.
- Zweifel, Robert G. (1998). Cogger, H.G. & Zweifel, R.G., ed. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 102–103. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
- Blackburn, D.C.; Wake, D.B. (2011). "Class Amphibia Gray, 1825. In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (Ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness". Zootaxa 3148: 39–55.
- Caldwell, George R. Zug; Laurie J. Vitt; Janalee P. (2001). Herpetology : an introductory biology of amphibians and reptiles (2. ed. ed.). San Diego [u.a.]: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-782622-X.
- Cogger, H.G.; R.G. Zweifel, and D. Kirschner (2004). Encyclopedia of Reptiles & Amphibians Second Edition. Fog City Press. ISBN 1-877019-69-0.
- Zug, George R.; Laurie J. Vitt and J.P. Caldwell (2001). Herpetology:An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles 2nd Edition. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-782622-X.
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