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World’s Smallest Frogs Added to 2011’s List of Newly-Discovered Amphibians

Eleutherodactylus iberia
Two frog species recently discovered in southeastern New Guinea are smaller than any other 4-legged vertebrate.  Within their pea-sized bodies, they pack a brain, lungs, heart, digestive system and most of the other organs that people have…simply astounding!

Tiny Frogs and Fish

The frogs, Paedophryne dekot and P. verrucosa, were collected several years ago, but were only described as new species this year (please see ZooKeys article).  Among all the world’s vertebrates, only a single fish, a Southeast Asian relative of the carp (see amazing photo here) is smaller – and the new frogs exceed it in size by only 0.1 mm!  Another contender for the title, a leaf-litter frog from Cuba (please see photo of striped frog), is only a tiny bit larger.

Minute Predators and Prey

New Guinea’s new frogs, which have yet to be given a common name, measure 8-9 mm., or 0.3 inches, in length.  They inhabit the leaf litter of tropical rainforests, where they are likely on the menu of predators ranging from spiders to small birds.  Females produce 2 eggs, but the details of their reproductive biology are unknown.

I’m looking forward to reading more about their lifestyles, especially their diet.  Some years ago, I cared for a colony of tiny Kihansi Spray Toads (please see article below) at the Bronx Zoo.  They gave birth to live froglets, which were the smallest amphibians I’d ever seen.  Some could not even handle a pinhead cricket, and had trouble “wrestling-down” springtails!  The new Paedophryne frogs must hunt some very tiny leaf-litter invertebrates.

Diversity Hotspots

 Blue Tree MonitorNew Guinea has provided a treasure-trove of new species in recent years, with over 1,000 new animals and plants – or over 2 each week – described there since 1998.  Indonesia is also offering surprises…I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of these, including the gorgeous Blue Tree Monitor (Varanus macraei); please see article below for more info.

India has also made frog headlines, with at least 25 new species described, and several pleasant re-discoveries of frogs believed to have become extinct.  They are a wonderfully-bizarre group of amphibians, as is indicated by their fanciful common names – Meowing Night Frog, Elegant Tropical Frog, Feisty Frog and so on.  Please see the article below for photos of India’s unique new frogs.


Further Reading

Working with Kihansi Spray Toads

New Species from New Guinea

India’s Strange New Frogs

Captive Care of a Newly-Discovered Lizard (Blue Tree Monitor)



Eleutherodactylus iberia image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Pierre Fidenci (calphotos.berkeley.edu) under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/

Blue Tree Monitor image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Greg Hume

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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