A small species of frog reaching up to 2.5 cm in body length. It has a grey, light brown, dark brown, or orange-brown back, sometimes with darker mottling. There is sometimes a longitudinal stripe along the middle of the back, and often indistinct eye-spots on the lower back. There is sometimes a black stripe from behind the eye to the arm, and sometimes a gold patch on the head. The belly is grey or yellow. The pupil is horizontal and the iris is green-grey in the upper half and dark brown in the lower half. Fingers and toes are unwebbed, both with large discs.
Looks similar to Cophixalus concinnus, Cophixalus exiguus, Cophixalus hosmeri and Cophixalus monticola in its distribution, but has a different call to Cophixalus hosmeri and Cophixalus monticola. It is also larger than Cophixalus hosmeri and Cophixalus exiguus, and has a different belly colour to Cophixalus concinnus.
Found only on Carbine Tableland, Thornton Uplands, and Mt Finnigan, all in the Wet Tropics region of QLD.
Eggs are laid on land as one small cluster connected by a thin jelly string under rocks, logs, and leaf litter. The nest is guarded by the male, as it is with other Cophixalus species. Tadpoles never swim in water; instead they develop entirely inside the egg and hatch as little frogs. It is unknown how long they take to develop into frogs, but Cophixalus ornatus eggs have been recorded taking 28 days to hatch. Breeds during spring to summer after rain.