Newly discovered frog species is world’s smallest vertebrate
At 7.7mm long, the Paedophryne amauensis is thus far the smallest in the animal kingdom with a backbone. This species of vertebrate was found on the thickly leafed forest floor in Papua New Guinea, alongside another tiny frog, the Paedophryne swiftorum that is measured at 8.6mm.
Papua New Guinea’s tropical islands lie just northwest of Australia and are well-known for their rich biodiversity.
The frogs were discovered in 2010 but the discovery was only announced on Wednesday as the study was published on January 11, 2012 in the PLoS ONE journal.
Scientists had a great deal of trouble locating the tiny creatures through listening for their calls. After four failed attempts in finding P.Amauensis in the traditional way, biologist and co-author Christopher Austin from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, together with graduate student Eric Rittmeyer, resorted to bagging a large pile of litter leaf and sifting through it.
“… eventually we saw this tiny thing hop off one of the leaves,” Austin told National Geographic News.
These new frogs are fully camouflaged by their earth-coloured skin and are expert jumpers that can leap 30 times the length of their body size.