Thursday, January 12, 2012

World’s smallest frog found in New Guinean rain forest

Photo courtesy of Louisiana University

The latest find in nature comes from the New Guinean rain forest in the form of a tiny frog that is less than a fourth the size of a dime.

National Geographic News published the findings Wednesday, saying "the world’s smallest known vertebrate is a frog the size of a housefly."

From National Geographic News:

At an average of 7.7 millimeters long [or .3 inches], the newfound Paedophryne amauensis is a hair smaller than the previous record holder, the Southeast Asian fish species Paedocypris progenetica, whose females measure about 7.9 millimeters [.31 inches].

During recent field surveys in southern Papua New Guinea, scientists found P. amauensis and another new species of tiny frog, Paedophryne swiftorum, which measures about 8.6 millimeters [.34 inches].

"I think it's amazing that they're continuing to find smaller and smaller frogs," said Robin Moore, an amphibian expert with Conservation International, who was not involved in the study.

It's obvious "they're adapting to fill a niche that nothing else is filling," he said.

Indeed, the frogs likely evolved their tiny sizes to eat tiny invertebrates, such as mites, that are ignored by bigger predators, said study co-author Christopher Austin, a biologist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
For those who love nature and want to read the entire text about the Paedophryne amauensis, the smallest known animal with a backbone, click here.

UPDATE: Claim is contested.

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