Brazilian flea toad- World’s Tiniest Frog

A group of researchers from Brazil have identified a new contender for the titles of world’s smallest frog and smallest known vertebrate. The adult male ‘Brazilian flea toad’, belonging to the Brachycephalus genus, found in the Atlantic rainforest region of Brazil, measures just 8.5 millimeters in body size.

Discovery Details

The diminutive frog was discovered by herpetologist Mirco Sole and team from Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Brazil among 46 other adults from the Brachycephalus family being studied. Of these, the smallest male measured 6.5 mm snout to rump, with females averaging slightly longer at 8 mm body size.

This beats the previous record holder – Papua New Guinea’s Paedophryne amauensis, a Psychrophrynella genus microhylid frog where males averaged around 8 mm nose to tail. Brachycephalus gender has multiple species occupying Brazil’s southern coastal states.

Morphological Adaptations

Interestingly, the ultra-small frog displays bodily changes from conventionally built amphibians. As principal investigator Sole shared, it only has two toes on the feet instead of five toes found in 97% of frog species globally.

Other tiny Brachycephalus frogs earlier showed shape-changing in ear structures that impacts hearing and movement. While the latest species seems to jump better than its siblings, its inner ear anatomy hasn’t been analyzed yet.

Possibility of Tinier Discoveries

Researchers point that a lot of remote, dense habitat types remain unexplored across the world’s tropical zones. Its likely even smaller amphibians await discovery given special adaptations to gain evolutionary edge at tiny scales under 5 millimeters body length.

However, species under 6 mm may pose severe morphological challenges around organ development, life stage durations and physical dynamics. But scientist Sole maintains an open mind if future explorations reveal something more diminutive.

Significance of Tiny Species

From a conservation perspective, micro endemics have survived thus far in delicately balanced ecosystems extremely sensitive to disturbances. Hence habitat protection for such relic species ensures preserving ecological balance benefiting overall regional biodiversity richness.

Summary:

  • New world’s smallest frog found in Brazil, measures 8.5mm (male)
  • Part of Brachycephalus genus frogs in Atlantic forest region
  • Smallest of 46 adults studied by team from Santa Cruz University
  • Beats previous record holder – Papua New Guinea’s Paedophryne frog (8mm)
  • Has only 2 toes on feet unlike 5 toes in 97% frogs globally
  • Likely even smaller amphibians exist in unexplored tropical habitats
  • Documenting tiny species tests vertebrate existence frontiers
  • Micro endemics survive in delicate ecosystems sensitive to disruption
  • Protecting habitats of such species ensures regional biodiversity
  • Finding world’s smallest frog showcases need to explore hotspots


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