World's Smallest Frog Discovered in New Guinea

Posted on January 11, 2012

Paedophryne amauensis

Chris Austin, curator of herpetology at LSUís Museum of Natural Science and associate professor of biological sciences, discovered the world's smallest frog - and tiniest known vertebrate - in New Guinea. The new frog (Paedophryne amauensis) averages just 7.7 millimeters in size. The tiny frog can sit on a dime with plenty of room to spare for a tiny frog friend or two.

Paedophryne amauensis is smaller than two microfrogs reported last month. The tiny frog is also the world's smallest vertebrate. It is smaller than an 8 mm Indonesian fish, Paedocypris progenetica, which was previously the smallest vertebrate. New Scientist notes that there is a type of male anglerfish that is smaller (6.2 mm), but because it is primarily just a backbone and testicles - and is much smaller than the female - it doesn't get counted.

BBC News reports that these tiny frogs are surprisingly loud. The researchers discovered the frogs by tracking the noise and then scooping up a handful of leaf litter and putting it into a clear plastic bag. Only then were they able to see the tiny frogs hopping around. Researchers suspect the tiny frogs probably eat very small insects, such as mites.

The research was published here in PLoS One. The publications also includes information about a second species of diminutive frog, Paedophryne swiftorum, that is only slightly larger than Paedophryne amanuensis, averaging only about 8.5 millimeters in body size.

Photo: Christopher C. Austin/LSU