The Tiniest Frog in the Old World

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I used to love walking through the grass at my aunts' houses in Gloucester during the summertime. Spring peepers, tiny frogs just an inch long, would go hopping through the blades as I wandered around. Now those were small, but get a load of this micro-frog, Microhyla nepenthicola, which was just discovered in Borneo. It measures a bit over 0.4 inches! It lives in pitcher plants, and the scientists who discovered say it's the smallest frog found in the old world. The smallest frog in the world appears to be this little guy native to Cuba.


"I saw some specimens in museum collections that are over 100 years old. Scientists presumably thought they were juveniles of other species, but it turns out they are adults of this newly-discovered micro species," said [Dr. Indraneil Das of the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak].

The mini frogs (Microhyla nepenthicola) were found on the edge of a road leading to the summit of the Gunung Serapi mountain, which lies within Kubah National Park. The new species was named after the plant on which it depends to live, the Nepenthes ampullaria, one of many species of pitcher plants in Borneo, which has a globular pitcher and grows in damp, shady forests. The frogs deposit their eggs on the sides of the pitcher, and tadpoles grow in the liquid accumulated inside the plant. Adult males of the new species range between 10.6 and 12.8 mm - about the size of a pea.

Read the full story at Conservation.Org.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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