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Frog Recently Discovered on Borneo is Eastern Hemisphere’s Smallest

Nepenthes ampullariaAn article in the August, 2010 issue of Zootaxa announces that a recently discovered frog is the smallest species in the Eastern Hemisphere.  Known only as Microhyla nepenthicola, the minute native of Borneo is barely the size of a green pea!  Interestingly, specimens have been in museum collections for over 100 years, but they were believed to be immature individuals of other species.

A Pitcher Plant Specialist

The tiny amphibian breeds in a unique habitat – the water contained in the base of pitcher plants.  Pitcher “ponds”, which serve to drown insects that are digested by the plants, support miniature ecosystems inhabited by insect larvae, snails, crabs, algae and other organisms. 

The newly described frogs deposit their eggs on the surface of the plant above the water, into which the tadpoles drop upon hatching.  The tadpoles, at a mere 3 millimeters in length, are also among the world’s smallest.

Other Recent Discoveries

A number of tiny amphibians and reptiles have been uncovered in recent years.  Southern Cuba is home to a frog that is even smaller than the species described above.  Christened Eleutherodactylus Iberia, it is known from only 5 locations.

In 2009, a previously unknown salamander, representing an entirely new genus, was found near a busy road in Georgia.  A mere 2 inches in length, the Patch-Nosed Salamander (Urspelerpes brucei) is only a bit longer than the world’s smallest species, Mexico’s Thorius arboreus.

Blind SnakeThe smallest snake yet discovered was found on Barbados in 2009.  Known as the Slender Blind Snake or Barbados Thread Snake (Leptotyphops carlae), it is 4 inches long and can easily coil up on a quarter (please see photo).

Further Reading

You can read about the discovery of the species mentioned above in the following articles:

Smallest Frog in Eastern Hemisphere

World’s Smallest Salamander

World’s Smallest Snake


Blind Snake image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Blair Hedges, Penn State University

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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