This Newly-Found Night Frog Can Comfortably Sit on Your Thumbnail

Miniature night frog

A group of Indian researchers found a species of night frog so small that it fits on a thumbnail. Photo credit: SD Biju.

After six years of combing the leaf litter in Indian rainforests, scientists found a night frog species no larger than a thumbnail. The research team said they were deceived by the tiny animal’s insect-like calls so, they thought they were dealing with a mysterious species of bugs for years.

The team has discovered seven species of miniature night frogs aka Nyctibatrachus, but the smallest is just 11-mm-long. Researchers acknowledged that they heard the frogs’ calls for a long time but they thought they were insects until they discovered the tiny amphibians hiding in the leaf litter.

Lead author of the study, Sonali Garg said the new species are quite abundant in the rainforests of the Western Ghats, but other researchers probably missed them because of their unusually small size and deceptive calls.

Researchers explained night frogs are an ancient species but the first time the group was documented was in 1882. The seven new species will join 28 other miniature frog species researchers have identified ever since. Scientists say they found the animals in the rainforests of five Indian states.

Of the 28 other species, 13 were found and studied over the last five years. Researchers said they were surprised to learn how diverse night frogs can be. A decade go, Dr. Garg’s professor SD Biju found the country’s smallest frog species – the Nyctibatrachus minimus – which is just 10 mm in length. Before the discovery, Biju had discovered more than 80 new species, so people called him the “frog man”.

In 2011, Biju and his team found 12 species of night frogs. The largest specimen in the group was 77-mm-long. Scientists said that night frogs are diverse not only in length and calls but also in mating behavior. For instance, the Bombay night frog has a mating position never documented in any of the world’s 7,500 species of frogs.

Of the 35 species of Nyctibatrachus discovered in Western Ghats, seven are less than 18-mm-long. David B. Wake, who has specialized in miniature amphibians over the years, noted miniature frogs should not be taken for juvenile versions of larger frogs.

Wake explained that mini-sized frogs live in environments that are not on the normal-sized frogs’ liking. For example, the newly found species were discovered in leaf litter and prefer to live on the ground. Larger frogs were spotted near streams.

A study detailing the findings was published Tuesday.
Image Source: here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *