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Temporal range: Berriasian[1]-recent
145–0 Ma
Amplexus of ADF.jpg
African dwarf frog
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Clade: Pipoidea
Clade: Pipimorpha
Family: Pipidae
Gray 1825
PIPIDAE range.png
Distribution of Pipidae in black

The Pipidae are a family of primitive, tongueless frogs. The 41 species in the family Pipidae are found in tropical South America (genus Pipa) and sub-Saharan Africa (the three other genera).


Pipid frogs are highly aquatic and have numerous morphological modifications befitting their habitat. For example, the feet are completely webbed, the body is flattened, and a lateral line system is present in adults.[2] In addition, pipids possess highly modified ears for producing and receiving sound under water. They lack a tongue or vocal cords, instead having bony rods in the larynx that help produce sound. They range from 4 to 19 cm (1.6 to 7.5 in) in body length.[3]

Extant genera[edit]

Family Pipidae Gray 1825[4]

  • Hymenochirus Boulenger 1896 - dwarf clawed frogs (4 species)
  • Pipa Laurenti 1768 - Surinam toads (7 species)
  • Pseudhymenochirus Chabanaud 1920 - Merlin's dwarf gray frog or Merlin's clawed frog (1 species)
  • Xenopus Wagler 1827 - clawed frogs (29 species)[5]
    • Subgenus (Silurana) Wagler 1827 - common clawed frogs
    • Subgenus (Xenopus) Gray 1864 - tropical clawed frogs

Fossil record[edit]

The fossil record for pipids and close relatives (Pipimorpha) is relatively good, with several extinct species known.[6] Six of these are placed in the extant genus Xenopus, the remainder in extinct genera. These fossils are known from Africa, South America, and the Middle East back to the Lower Cretaceous.[3][6]

Fossil Pipidae[edit]

South America
Pipidae is located in South America
Pipidae fossil locations in South America
Lightgreen pog.svg Late Cretaceous Los Alamitos
Brown pog.svg Danian Salamanca
Orange pog.svg Thanetian Huitrera
Red pog.svg Ypresian Itaboraí
Gold pog.svg Casamayoran Laguna del Hunco
Yellow pog.svg Mustersan Pozo
Yellow ffff00 pog.svg Middle Miocene Urumaco
Gold pog.svg New Pipidae species
Gold pog.svg Pipidae genera
Gold pog.svg Indeterminate Pipidae
Ma Age Taxon
bold is n. sp.
Formation Basin Country Refs
84 Campanian cf. Xenopus sp. Los Alamitos Neuquén Argentina [7]
61.9 Peligran ?Pipidae indet. Hansen Mb, Salamanca Golfo San Jorge Argentina [8]
54.69 Riochican Llankibatrachus truebae Huitrera Neuquén Argentina [9]
53 Itaboraian Xenopus romeri Itaboraí Itaboraí Brazil [10]
52.44 Casamayoran Shelania pascuali Laguna del Hunco Cañadón Asfalto Argentina [11]
45 Mustersan ?Pipidae indet. Pozo Ucayali Peru [12]
11.8 Mayoan-Huayquerian cf. Pipa sp. Urumaco Falcón Basin Venezuela [13]


  1. ^ Estes, Spinar, Nevo. "Early Cretaceous pipid tadpoles from Israel (Amphibia: Anura)". Herpetologica.
  2. ^ "AmphibiaWeb: Pipidae". Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  3. ^ a b Zweifel, Richard G. (1998). Cogger, H.G.; Zweifel, R.G. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 86–87. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
  4. ^ Pipidae at the Amphibian Species of the World 6.0 - AMNH
  5. ^ Evans et al., 2015
  6. ^ a b Gómez, 2016
  7. ^ Báez, 1987
  8. ^ Gelfo et al., 2007
  9. ^ Báez & Pugener, 2003
  10. ^ Estes & Wake, 1972
  11. ^ Báez & Trueb, 1997
  12. ^ Antoine et al., 2016
  13. ^ Head et al., 2006


External links[edit]

  • Data related to Pipidae at Wikispecies
  • Media related to Pipidae at Wikimedia Commons