The Megophryidae (commonly known as the litter frogs) are a large family of frogs native to the warm southeast of Asia, from the Himalayan foothills eastwards, south to Indonesia and the Greater Sunda Islands in Maritime Southeast Asia, and extending to the Philippines.[1] Fossil remains are also known from North America.[2] As of 2014 it encompasses 180 species of frogs divided between 9 genera.[3] For lack of a better vernacular name, they are commonly called megophryids.

Temporal range: Early Eocene to Recent, 50.3–0 Ma
Leptob hasselt M 080208-4534 clobk.jpg
Java spadefoot toad (Leptobrachium hasseltii)
Scientific classification

Bonaparte, 1850

About 9, see text

Global range (black)


The megophryids are notable for their camouflage, especially those that live in forests, which often look like dead leaves. The camouflage is accurate to the point of some having skin folds that look like leaf veins, and at least one species, the long-nosed horned frog (Megophrys montana) has sharp projections extending past the eye and nose, which disguise the frog shape.[1]

Megophryids range in size from 2 to 12.5 cm (0.79 to 4.92 in) in length. The adults' tongues are noticeably paddle-shaped. Their tadpoles can be found in a variety of waters, but especially ponds and streams. The tadpoles are extremely diverse in form because of the variety of habitats they inhabit.


Family Megophryidae includes the following nine genera:[3]

Of these, Borneophrys is monotypic. Genera no longer recognized include Atympanophrys (now in Megophrys) and Vibrissaphora (now in Leptobrachium). Furthermore, genus Xenophrys Günther, 1864 has recently been merged to Megophrys to resolve the paraphyly of Xenophrys, awaiting a better solution. This makes Megophrys the most speciose genus within Megophryidae.[3] However, other sources continue to recognize Xenophrys.[4]


The following phylogeny of Megophryidae is from Pyron & Wiens (2011).[5] The Bornean genera Leptobrachella and Borneophrys have not been included. Megophryidae is a sister taxon to Pelobatidae.



Megophrys (incl. Xenophrys)







Oreolalax, Scutiger, Megophrys, and Ophryophryne can be found in higher-altitude montane habitats. Geographical distributions for small-range Himalayan montane species are listed below.


The origin of this group of frogs was largely unknown, due to the lack of members of this family in the fossil record. While the family was originally considered to have originated in the early-mid Cretaceous (100-126 mya) via fossils of related frog groups, a study in early 2017 revealed that this was likely an overestimation. Using DNA sequencing, the study indicated the group more likely originated much later during the Cretaceous period, around 77 mya. The study also indicated that there are likely many more new species in the family that are currently unknown to science.[6]

While the family is currently restricted to Asia, fossils indicate that it once had a much wider distribution extending to North America. The earliest known fossils of this family are from the Eocene of Wyoming in the United States.[2]


  1. ^ a b Zweifel, Richard G. (1998). Cogger, H.G.; Zweifel, R.G. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-12-178560-4.
  2. ^ a b "Fossilworks: Megophryidae". Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  3. ^ a b c Frost, Darrel R. (2014). "Megophryidae Bonaparte, 1850". Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Megophryidae". AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  5. ^ R. Alexander Pyron; John J. Wiens (2011). "A large-scale phylogeny of Amphibia including over 2800 species, and a revised classification of extant frogs, salamanders, and caecilians". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 61 (2): 543–583. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.06.012. PMID 21723399.
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-02-26. External link in |title= (help)
  • Cogger, H.G; Zweifel, R.G. & Kirschner, D. (2004): Encyclopedia of Reptiles & Amphibians (2nd ed.). Fog City Press. ISBN 1-877019-69-0
  • Heying, H. (2003): Animal Diversity WebMegophryidae. Retrieved 2006-MAY-08.

Further readingEdit

  • "Asian Toadfrogs (Megophryidae)". Amy Lathrop. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Ed. Michael Hutchins, Arthur V. Evans, Jerome A. Jackson, Devra G. Kleiman, James B. Murphy, Dennis A. Thoney, et al. Vol. 6: Amphibians. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2004. p109-117.