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Tiny Frog Crowned World’s Smallest Vertebrate Species

Tiny Frog Crowned World’s Smallest Vertebrate Species

A diminutive species of frog, small enough to make a dime look like a hot tub, recently claimed the title of world’s smallest vertebrate.

A study published in PLos ONE claims that a species of frog known as Paedophryne amauensis is the world’s smallest animal with a spine. Only about 7.7 mm long at adulthood, Louisiana State University herpetologist and environmental biologist Christopher Austin had to use an incredibly powerful zoom lens just to photograph and describe the tiny frogs. Getting Paedophryne amauensis to sit still for the photos was even more difficult, as they can leap 30 times their own length.

Tiny Frog

The claim has been challenged by University of Washington ichthyologist Theodore Pietsch, who measured the mail anglerfish that claimed the title of world’s smallest vertebrate in 2006. The male anglerfish, which lives as a parasite on the body of the much larger female, can be as small as 5.7 mm. But Austin claims that the frog wins when average species size is compared.

Austin says that study, besides being generally cool,  helps to identify ecological similarities among the most diminutive frog species. Their unique size suggests that the independent origins of minute frogs are not merely evolutionary outliers, but represent a previously undocumented ecological guild found in moist leaf litter of tropical wet-forests.

Related Reading:

Tiny Frog Discovered Living Inside Carnivorous Plants

3 Things You Can Do To Help Save The Frogs

Breeding Experts Puzzled By Death Of Rare Frogs

Top Image: AP Photo/Louisiana State University, Christopher Austin
Middle Image: Louisiana State University, Christopher Austin

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8 comments

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8:48PM PST on Jan 16, 2012

Incredible.

10:40AM PST on Jan 15, 2012

very cute

4:29PM PST on Jan 13, 2012

Thank you.

1:43PM PST on Jan 13, 2012

How cool... I think with such small size differences wouldn't you call it a tie because of the individual variation within species?

1:26PM PST on Jan 13, 2012

Wow!

12:52PM PST on Jan 13, 2012

I call it Eric, and you don't need a license for it ;)

12:25PM PST on Jan 13, 2012

Scientist arguing over whose is bigger. Go figure. Did you know:
The new, estimated total number of species on Earth -- the most precise calculation ever offered -- with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.
Furthermore, PLoS Biology says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

12:13PM PST on Jan 13, 2012

Very cool! Who would have ever thought...smaller than a dime!

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