Under Construction


Gold Frogs

David Cannatella
from Frost (1985)
Containing group: Neobatrachia


This small group of tiny frogs is found in forests of southeastern Brazil. The Gold Frog (Brachycephalus ephippium) is the best known member of this family, and is distinctive because of its color and possession of bony dorsal shields that are fused to the vertebrae. However, other populations of Brachycephalus (currently synonymized) have less ossification. With a snout-vent length of only 9.8 mm, Psyllophryne didactyla is one of the world's smallest amphibians. Both genera exhibit reduction of the number of digits. The two genera are united by the absence of a sternum. There are no fossil brachycephalids.

Geographic Distribution

The distribution of living members of the family Brachycephalidae is indicated in red.
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distribution of living members of the family Brachycephalidae

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Ford and Cannatella (1993) defined Brachycephalidae to be the most recent common ancestor of Brachycephalus and Psyllophryne, and all its descendants. Synapomorphies include the absence of a sternum, digital reduction, and complete ossification of epicoracoid cartilages with coracoids and clavicles (data from Izecksohn, 1971).

Brachycephalids have always been considered to be neobatrachians. A photo in Halliday and Adler (1986:38-39) shows Brachycephalus ephippium in inguinal amplexus, a behavior that is rare in Neobatrachia (Nussbaum, 1980).

Other Names for Brachycephalidae


Click here for general list of references

About This Page
If you are interested in authoring or co-authoring the page for this taxon, or some part of it (even a species), contact David Cannatella.

David Cannatella
University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to David Cannatella at

Page: Tree of Life Brachycephalidae. Gold Frogs. Authored by David Cannatella. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Cannatella, David. 1995. Brachycephalidae. Gold Frogs. Version 01 January 1995 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Brachycephalidae/16940/1995.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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