Ghost frog

  (Redirected from Heleophrynidae)

Heleophrynidae is a family of frogs, commonly known as ghost frogs. The family consists of two genera, Heleophryne and Hadromophryne, with seven species. Ghost frogs live in swift-moving mountain streams in South Africa. The common name of "ghost frogs" may have been coined because of their occurrence in Skeleton Gorge.[1]

Ghost frog
Heleophryne orientalis.jpg
Eastern ghost frog (Heleophryne orientalis)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Suborder: Neobatrachia
Family: Heleophrynidae
Noble, 1931
Heleophrynidae range.PNG
Distribution of Heleophrynidae (in black)


Ghost frogs have morphological adaptations suited to surviving on the rocks around these streams. They are medium-sized frogs, reaching a length of 6 cm (2.4 in), with flat bodies, enabling them to climb inside rocky crevices. They have very large toe discs in comparison to their size, which helps to cling onto rocks. With the help of the labial teeth the tadpoles contain in their mouths, the mouthparts are modified into sucking discs, to allow them to cling to substrates, and remain still while they are feeding.[1]


The ghost frogs are were formerly thought to be closely related to the Sooglossidae of the Seychelles (which are now thought to be a sister group to Ranoidea), or to the Australian Myobatrachidae, which are now thought to be a sister group to Hyloidea. In contrast, more recent taxonomic studies place them as being the most basal extant members of the Neobatrachia and having no close relatives, having diverged from the rest of the Neobatrachia during the Early Cretaceous, about 140 million years ago.[2][3]

Family Heleophrynidae

EDGE endangered speciesEdit

On January 21, 2008, Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) identified nature's most "weird, wonderful and endangered species", stating that "the EDGE amphibians are amongst the most remarkable and unusual species on the planet and yet an alarming 85% of the top 100 are receiving little or no conservation attention." Due to the very ancient origins and deep genetic divergence of Heleophrynidae, the Table Mountain ghost frog (Heleophryne rosei) was listed as #11 on the list.[4][5][6]


  1. ^ a b Zweifel, Richard G. (1998). Cogger, H.G.; Zweifel, R.G. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 104–105. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
  2. ^ Feng, Yan-Jie; Blackburn, David C.; Liang, Dan; Hillis, David M.; Wake, David B.; Cannatella, David C.; Zhang, Peng (2017-07-18). "Phylogenomics reveals rapid, simultaneous diversification of three major clades of Gondwanan frogs at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (29): E5864–E5870. doi:10.1073/pnas.1704632114. ISSN 0027-8424. PMID 28673970.
  3. ^ "Table Mountain Ghost Frog". EDGE of Existence. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  4. ^ Reuters, Giant newt, tiny frog identified as most at risk
  5. ^, Gallery: the world's strangest amphibians
  6. ^ "Table Mountain Ghost Frog". EDGE of Existence. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  • Cogger, H.G.; R.G. Zweifel; D. Kirschner (2004). Encyclopedia of Reptiles & Amphibians Second Edition. Fog City Press. ISBN 1-877019-69-0.