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).

Temporal range: Early Cretaceous-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


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.[1] 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.[2]

Extant generaEdit

Family Pipidae Gray 1825[3]

  • 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)[4]
    • Subgenus (Silurana) Wagler 1827 - common clawed frogs
    • Subgenus (Xenopus) Gray 1864 - tropical clawed frogs

Fossil recordEdit

The fossil record for pipids and close relatives (Pipimorpha) is relatively good, with several extinct species known.[5] 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.[2][5]

Fossil PipidaeEdit

South America
Ma Age Taxon
bold is n. sp.
Formation Basin Country Refs
84 Campanian cf. Xenopus sp. Los Alamitos Neuquén Argentina [6]
61.9 Peligran ?Pipidae indet. Hansen Mb, Salamanca Golfo San Jorge Argentina [7]
54.69 Riochican Llankibatrachus truebae Huitrera Neuquén Argentina [8]
53 Itaboraian Xenopus romeri Itaboraí Itaboraí Brazil [9]
52.44 Casamayoran Shelania pascuali Laguna del Hunco Cañadón Asfalto Argentina [10]
45 Mustersan ?Pipidae indet. Pozo Ucayali Peru [11]
11.8 Mayoan-Huayquerian cf. Pipa sp. Urumaco Falcón Basin Venezuela [12]


  1. ^ "AmphibiaWeb: Pipidae". Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Pipidae at the Amphibian Species of the World 6.0 - AMNH
  4. ^ Evans et al., 2015
  5. ^ a b Gómez, 2016
  6. ^ Báez, 1987
  7. ^ Gelfo et al., 2007
  8. ^ Báez & Pugener, 2003
  9. ^ Estes & Wake, 1972
  10. ^ Báez & Trueb, 1997
  11. ^ Antoine et al., 2016
  12. ^ Head et al., 2006


External linksEdit

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