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.
New 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.
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