Phyllomedusinae – of monkeys and frogs

Posted on April 13, 2013 by Tim 7 Comments

Phyllomedusa camba from Madidi National Park, Bolivia.

I have seen small aggregations of the near black-eyed P. camba gathered around small ponds in Bolivia – ahhh, another great Greentracks trip. This frog can be confused with P. boliviana with which it shares much of its range. And there was my lone encounter with P. tarsius during a solo trip to Nigel Pitman’s property across the road from Jatún Sacha biological station in Ecuador. My most frequently encountered monkey frog has been P. vaillanti.

An Ecuadorian Phyllomedusa tarsius found across the road from Jatún Sacha Biological Station on the Rio Napo.

I have seen this species numerous times in Peru and Ecuador. They can be identified by the light colored eyes, in conjunction with the two dorsolateral rows of white spines poking through the skin. Having osteoderms protruding through the skin is a characteristic shared by P. bicolor. All of these frogs are highly photogenic, especially when they are awake, alert, or on the move. Unfortunately, they are also maddening for a photographer as they tend to curl into a depressing ball and close their eyes when disturbed. It takes great skill and patience to get them to look their best.

So aside from more encounters with Cruziohyla craspedopus, leaf frogs I am really looking forward to encountering are P. atelopoides, a small terrestrial oddball, and P. palliata, a bicolored cream and green species. So this is my little rundown of leaf frogs, or monkey frogs if you prefer. This is an extremely fascinating and downright fun group of frogs. Please do yourself a favor and try to get yourself into some forests where they reside and look for them. Listen for their clucks or look for their big eyes staring back at you from their darkened haunts in the forest. You will remember it forever.

A few months ago I found this Phyllomedusa vaillanti at Sani Lodge in Ecuador. You can barely make out the dorsolateral rows of osteoderms that can poke through the skin. This characteristic helps identify the species.




Faivovich, J., et al. 2005. Systematic Review of the Frog Family Hylidae, with Special Reference to Hylinae: Phylogenetic Analysis and Taxonomic Revision. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 294: 1-240.

Faivovich, J., et al. 2009. The Phyllogenetic Relationships of the Charismatic Poster Frogs, Phyllomedusinae (Anura, Hylidae). Cladistics 26: 227-261.

Kubicki, B. 2004. Ranas de Hoja de Costa Rica: Leaf-Frogs of Costa Rica. INBio: 1-117.



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  • Dante says:

    Great post Tim! Loved the shots.

  • shirley paine says:

    Beautiful; well done and very interesting.

  • Beautiful photos and wonderful information…Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Tim….

  • Peter Keane says:

    Tim, these are some of the most stunning photos of Phyllomedusinae I have yet to come across. Keep up the great work!!!..

    • Tim says:

      Peter, thanks for the compliments. I’m trying. Waaaay behind on the blog work as I’ve given to some other writing assignments but hoping to tap out more in 2014.

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