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Scotobleps gabonicus.jpg
Scotobleps gabonicus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Superfamily: Ranoidea
Family: Arthroleptidae
Mivart, 1869

See text

The Arthroleptidae /ˌɑrθrɵˈlɛptɨd/ are a family of frogs found in sub-Saharan Africa.[1] They are commonly known as squeakers because of their high-pitched calls. Small in size (less than 4 cm (1.6 in) in length), these terrestrial frogs are typically found in leaf litter or on the forest floor. They completely bypass any aquatic stage and do not have tadpoles. They lay their eggs on the ground, in crevices or in leaf litter, and the offspring undergo direct development. Some species hatch already metamorphosed into their adult form, while others still have tails when they hatch.[2]

This family contains a unique frog, the hairy frog (Trichobatrachus robustus). Breeding male hairy frogs develop highly vascularised, hair-like projections on their thighs and flanks. They sit on their eggs for long periods of time, and the hairs are thought to assist in respiration through the skin, while they cannot use their lungs in the water. The hairy frog is also notable in possessing retractable "claws" (though unlike true claws, they are made of bone, not keratin), which it may project through the skin, apparently by intentionally breaking the bones of the toe [1]. In addition, researchers have found a small bony nodule nestled in the tissue just beyond the frog's fingertip. When sheathed, each claw is anchored to the nodule with tough strands of collagen, but when the frog is grabbed or attacked, the frog breaks the nodule connection and forces its sharpened bones through the skin.

Amphibian researcher and biologist David Wake of the University of California, Berkeley, says this type of weaponry appears to be unique in the animal kingdom, but David Cannatella, a herpetologist at the University of Texas, Austin, questions whether the bony protrusions are meant for fighting. They could allow a frog's feet "to get a better grip on whatever rocky habitat they might be in", he says.[3]


The Arthroleptidae are separated into three subfamilies: Arthroleptinae, Astylosterninae, and Leptopelinae.[1] Some consider these to be separate families, while others do not recognize any subfamilies.[4]

The three subfamilies consist of these genera:[1]

Subfamilia Species Common name Scientific name
Mivart, 1869
47 Screeching frogs Arthroleptis Smith, 1849
16 Long-fingered frogs Cardioglossa Boulenger, 1900
Noble, 1927
12 Night frogs Astylosternus Werner, 1898
15 Egg frogs Leptodactylodon Andersson, 1903
1 Southern night frog Nyctibates Boulenger, 1904
1 Gaboon forest frog Scotobleps Boulenger, 1900
1 Hairy frog Trichobatrachus Boulenger, 1900
Laurent, 1972
52 Forest treefrogs Leptopelis Günther, 1859


  1. ^ a b c Frost, Darrel R. (2014). "Arthroleptidae Mivart, 1869". Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Zweifel, Robert G. (1998). Cogger, H.G. & Zweifel, R.G., ed. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 101. ISBN 0-12-178560-2. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ 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" (PDF). Zootaxa 3148: 39–55. 

^ *" 'Horror frog' breaks own bones to produce claws.", 2008

Further information[edit]