Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

World's smallest vertebrate: Tiny frogs discovered in New Guinea

Date:
January 12, 2012
Source:
Louisiana State University
Summary:
Biologists just discovered two new species of frogs in New Guinea, one of which is now the world's tiniest known vertebrate, averaging only 7.7 millimeters in size -- less than one-third of an inch. It ousts Paedocypris progenetica, an Indonesian fish averaging more than 8 millimeters, from the record.

Whole body of paedophryne amauensis.
Credit: Rittmeyer et al PLoS ONE, 2012; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029797

LSU's Chris Austin recently discovered two new species of frogs in New Guinea, one of which is now the world's tiniest known vertebrate, averaging only 7.7 millimeters in size -- less than one-third of an inch. It ousts Paedocypris progenetica, an Indonesian fish averaging more than 8 millimeters, from the record. Austin, leading a team of scientists from the United States including LSU graduate student Eric Rittmeyer, made the discovery during a three-month long expedition to the island of New Guinea, the world's largest and tallest tropical island.

"It was particularly difficult to locate Paedophryne amauensis due to its diminutive size and the males' high pitched insect-like mating call," said Austin. "But it's a great find. New Guinea is a hotspot of biodiversity, and everything new we discover there adds another layer to our overall understanding of how biodiversity is generated and maintained."

Austin, curator of herpetology at LSU's Museum of Natural Science and associate professor of biological sciences, is no stranger to discovering new species, having described numerous species previously unknown to science, including frogs, lizards and parasites.

The research, which will be published in PLoS One, on Jan. 11, includes a second species of diminutive frog newly named Paedophryne swiftorum that is only slightly larger than Paedophryne amanuensis, averaging only about 8.5 millimeters in body size.

Austin's work, supported by the National Science Foundation, highlights an interesting trend among the discovery of extremely small vertebrates.

"The size limit of vertebrates, or creatures with backbones, is of considerable interest to biologists because little is understood about the functional constraints that come with extreme body size, whether large or small," said Austin.

With more than 60,000 vertebrates currently known to man, the largest being the blue whale with an average size of more than 25 meters (75 feet) and the smallest previously being the small Indonesian fish averaging around 8 millimeters, there was originally some thought that extreme size in vertebrates might be associated with aquatic species, as perhaps the buoyancy offers support and facilitates the development of extremism. However, both new species of frogs Austin described are terrestrial, suggesting that living in water is not necessary for small body size.

"The ecosystems these extremely small frogs occupy are very similar, primarily inhabiting leaf litter on the floor of tropical rainforest environments," said Austin. "We now believe that these creatures aren't just biological oddities, but instead represent a previously undocumented ecological guild -- they occupy a habitat niche that no other vertebrate does."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Louisiana State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eric N. Rittmeyer, Allen Allison, Michael C. Gründler, Derrick K. Thompson, Christopher C. Austin. Ecological Guild Evolution and the Discovery of the World's Smallest Vertebrate. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (1): e29797 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029797

Cite This Page:

Louisiana State University. "World's smallest vertebrate: Tiny frogs discovered in New Guinea." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120111223352.htm>.
Louisiana State University. (2012, January 12). World's smallest vertebrate: Tiny frogs discovered in New Guinea. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120111223352.htm
Louisiana State University. "World's smallest vertebrate: Tiny frogs discovered in New Guinea." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120111223352.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) — A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins