SMALLER THAN A TOEA, two newly discovered frog species are considered the smallest ever found. These pipsqueaks live in Papua New Guinea and are about 8-9 mm in length.
The two species, Paedophryne dekot and Paedophryne verrucosa, are not only the smallest frogs ever discovered, they are also the smallest of a group of animals called tetrapods (four-legged animals with backbones).
The name dekot derives from the word for "very small" in the local language, Daga; while verrucosa was named from the Latin for "full of warts" due to its distinctively lumpy skin.
P dekot inhabits the lower ranges, below about 1,200 metres, of the western slope of Mt Dayman in Milne Bay Province and P verrucosa lives on the southeastern slope of Mt Suckling, a region that adjoins Mt Dayman.
"Miniaturization occurs in many frog genera around the world," the Bishop Museum in Hawaii said in a statement. "New Guinea seems particularly well represented, with species in seven genera exhibiting the phenomenon."
The frogs are so small they seem to have hit the lower limit of body size for frogs and toads, so it's unlikely that researchers will find anything much smaller. The frogs are brown or red-brown in color, with camouflaging flecks of brown and blackish triangles on their sides.
Because of their tiny size, their fingers and toes are too small to allow much climbing, so they have found a niche on the forest floor, where their tiny body size allows them to hide among leaf litter and moss. The author suggests they might eat tiny arthropods, such as mites.
They are so small that females of both species can only have two eggs, limiting their ability to reproduce. They also lose moisture very quickly, restricting them to very wet tropical forests.
The call the male P verrucosa uses to attract females is said to sound like "a quick drag of a finger over a comb." It makes its calls at dusk until the sky turns dark and also before dawn.
Source: ZooKeys, 12 December