Discovery of the Smallest Frog in the World

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Small frog in handThere are more species of animal living on the face of our planet than we will perhaps ever know about, but a recent discovery adds one more creature to the list of discovered species. In this article we will cover the newly discovered smallest frog in the world – the Paedophryne amanuensis, found in New Guinea measuring just .27 inches long.

The Paedophryne Amauensis

Paedophryne amanuensis is a newly discovered frog species found in Papua, New Guinea by a team of researchers from the United States. This tiny frog measures just 7 mm or .27 inches long and goes down in the record books as the world’s smallest frog. The full grown adult Paedophryne amanuensis frog still only measures around 7.7 mm at its largest which is why this species overthrows the Brazilian gold frog. The Paedophryne amanuensis was not the only species discovered on this research trip, researchers were also able to find a larger relative of Paedophryne amanuensis, Paedophryne swiftorum. The Paedophryne amanuensis makes its home in leaf litter on the forest floor like many other small lizards and frogs. The deep green color of this tiny amphibian is related to this woodland habitat and allows this small reptile to camouflage itself adequately from predators.

The Discovery of Paedophryne Amauensis

Map of Papua New GuineaThe discovery of Paedophryne amanuensis was actually something of an accidental find as the team was attempting to record calls of native frogs to the Papua, New Guinea forests. As the loud forests echoed with frog calls there was one call in particular that piqued the curiosity of the team. Investigation of the sounds proved a little more difficult than expected and it was not until researchers simply took handfuls of leaf litter and placed them in a plastic bag that they caught sight of the .27 inch long frogs. The Paedophryne amanuensis is a relatively new species discovery and as such scientists are still learning about these small frogs.

What is Known about the Paedophryne Amauensis

Paedophryne Amauensis Hide in Leaf Litter on the Forest Floors

Researchers so far know that Paedophryne amanuensis prefers to live in thick leaf litter on the forest floors in the eastern forests of Papua, New Guinea. Being such small creatures with dark camouflage the Paedophryne amanuensis are able to hide in the deeper litter and escape not only predators but also researchers! Small frog species like the Paedophryne amanuensis are not unknown to small forests around the world. Damp leaf litter and tropical climates with high levels of moisture and abundant insect populations make the ideal setting for smaller frog species who would stand no chance in less sheltered environments.

There are Many Unique Factors about the Paedophryne Amanuensis

The Paedophryne amanuensis is unique in comparison to many other frog species, in that it does not have a tadpole stage in its lifecycle. Rather than hatching as tadpoles as most frogs do, the young Paedophryne amanuensis hatch as small hopping frogs that are already completely formed. Incredibly even right after hatching, these amazing frogs can jump as much as thirty times their body length. The Paedophryne amanuensis feeds on small invertebrates that can be found on the forest floors. Another unique feature about this small frog species is the incredibly high pitched sounds that these frogs make when calling for mates. The 8400 – 9400 Hz sound that these frogs make is similar to the sound of insects and is what drew researchers to the frog initially. When hearing the peeps of these small crepuscular frogs researchers were curious to pinpoint the sound and it was then that these tiny frogs were discovered.

The Paedophryne Genus

The Paedophryne genus of frog is considered as a microhylid frog type. The name Paedophryne translates from the Greek words “paedos” meaning child and “phryne” meaning toad or frog. There are currently six known species within the Paedophryne genus and all six of these species are recognized for their incredibly minute size. The six known species of the Paedophyryne genus include: Paedophryne kathismaphlox, Paedophryne oyatabu, Paedophryne dekot, Paedophryne verrucosa, Paedophryne amanuensis and Paedophryne swiftorum. All of these species have been newly discovered within the past three years. The Paedophryne genus is a genus that falls in to the Asterophryinae subfamily of microhylid frogs. There are currently seventy one recognized species and nine recognized genera in the Asterophryinae subfamily.

The Microhylidae Frog Family

Microhylid frogs are frogs that fall in to the Microhylidae family. This frog family is the largest of all frog families and contains some 495 different species that are found all over the world. Most commonly these frogs are found in warm temperate or tropical regions of the world including: North and South America, eastern India, Sri Lanka, New Guinea, Australia, Madagascar and Africa. Each species within the Microhylidae family are known for being incredibly small and can be found living on forest floors, in underground burrows and in trees. There are nine known subfamilies of the Microhylidae frog family, these include Asterophryinae, Brevicipitinae, Cophylinae, Dyscophinae, Genyophryninae, Melanobatrachinae, Microhylinae, Phrynomerinae and Scaphiophryninae.

Why Papua, New Guinea?

Papua New Guinea CountrysideMany people find themselves asking why this species was found in Papua, New Guinea and there are a couple of answers to that question. Obviously the first answer is that the environment – meaning the temperatures, humidity levels, amount of food available etc – is conducive to this particular frog population. Perhaps what people are more interested in, however, is why this unknown species was found here in the first place. Much of the incredible land of Papua, New Guinea has yet to be explored or developed and as such species remain untouched by human hands. Without the deforestation and other interruptions that humans cause to natural environments, a number of amazing species that have yet to be discovered are able to thrive in this area. In addition to Papua, New Guinea, the forests of Madagascar also remain a treasure trove of unchartered territory and unknown species.

Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.

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Anonymous
I know about a couple of cool frogs:

Dwarf Frogs

Dwarf Frogs, or the “Dwarf Clawed Frogs” are small reaching only about an inch to inch-and-a-half in size. You generally need about a gallon of water per frog for their habitat and they eat sinking foods taken off the bottom of the tank. For this reason, it is best to have a smooth bottom to the tank with a large enough gravel that they cannot intake it during feeding. The frogs do like hiding spots, so some plants or fish tank ornaments are good, but they do not need a landing space as they are completely aquatic. Generally, Dwarf Frogs live about 5 years.

Oriental Fire Bellied Toads

Oriental Fire Bellied Toads are good frogs to own as pets for beginners. They are relatively hearty in nature and only grow to be two inches in size. They are semi-terrestrial meaning they need some space to be able to get out of the water intermittently. They require about a ten gallon tank for their habitat, but you can keep two to three frogs in a space this size. They live about ten to fifteen years in captivity and are somewhat toxic to the touch so it is best not to keep them with any other animals or fish in the same water. It is also best to minimize your handling of the frog and always wash up after doing so or cleaning their tank. They are fairly active and entertaining as pets.

White’s Tree Frog

White’s Tree Frog, also known as the dumpy tree frog, grows a bit bigger than the others, up to about four inches in length, but is also much more docile than its smaller counterparts. It lives mostly in trees (obviously) so a taller rather than wider tank is necessary with a tight fitting top and no less than twenty five gallons in capacity. You can keep more than one of these frogs together, however they should all be approximately the same size. If a larger frog is kept with smaller ones, they may be eaten. These frogs are also nocturnal, so they will be most active at night in the dark.

Anonymous
I started wondering if they would be hard to keep as pets and if I could realistically have more than one and still take good care of them. I also wondered if they liked to sit in your hands, or if they were more independent. Being reptiles, they probably aren’t going to be as cuddly as dogs or cats.

All the same, frogs are so cute, and honestly after I read a bit about them, I realized that they would make fun pets for me. They are not really good if you have immature kids though. Like for some older kids that can be gentle with the animal and make sure that the little fellow gets the proper care and nourishment, a frog might work as a pet.

So here is what I learned. If you want to get a frog, you cannot jump right into a decision like this. Get the wrong kind of frog, or any amphibian for that matter, and it could literally ruin your whole life.

Ok, maybe that is a little sensationalistic, but truthfully not all frogs are suitable to keep as pets. Some are poisonous, some are more aggressive, and some are simply too sensitive to their environment to be able to maintain.

Furthermore, there is a worldwide problem in which the aggregate frog population has been in steady decline. This is due to several contributing factors.

First there is an epidemic-like infection spreading through the frog population coming from contact with the Chrytid fungus. This alone has been responsible for the extinction of over one hundred different species of frogs in just over the last decade. It is important to avoid frogs with the potential to carry diseases, for if they get free it could propagate the disease and kill more frogs.

Secondly, there has been vast over-harvesting of frogs by humans going on now for centuries for both the pet and the food trade. The pet-trade is especially culpable in that it also indirectly contributes to the spread of disease. Wild frogs are captured and shipped literally all over the world where they may encounter different species of frogs that have little to know exposure, and therefore little ability to fight, diseases from other parts of the world.

Other factors contributing to worldwide frog decline are habitat destruction, pesticide use contaminating habitats, global climate change, and the invasion of other species that prey on frogs. At any rate, it is important that your decision to own a frog does not further contribute to the overall frog decline. So, choosing the wrong frog from the wrong source can be a major problem.

However, some species of frogs make very good pets. Kept in the right habitat, provided the correct diet, and given all the proper care, they can live for several years. These species are dwarfs, oriental fire bellies, white’s tree frogs, African claw frogs and American green trees.

Anonymous
African Clawed Frogs

These frogs, in their earlier years, are often mistaken for the Dwarf Clawed Frog mentioned earlier and essentially require the same habitat conditions that their smaller cousins do. However, they grow to be much larger, up to five inches in length at maximum. They eat insects of all kinds and have been known to become quite tame, even taking food from the hands of people on occasion. They generally need about ten gallons of volume space per frog to exist comfortably.

American Green Tree Frogs

These are one of the more popular breeds for owners due to their bright green color and small size. They only reach around one and a half inches in length and generally only need ten gallons of tank space to exist. Again, because they are tree-dwellers, the height of the tank is more important than the floor space and having plenty of climbing opportunities is vital to the well being of your new pet.