11.4-millimeter-long frog found in Andean Elfin forest
An 11.4-millimeter-long frog, one of the world's smallest, has just been discovered in an "elfin forest" within the South American Andes, according to an announcement today by the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum of Dresden.
The new species, Noblella pygmaea, was appropriately named Noble's Pygmy Frog, in a Copeia journal paper describing it. Its small size left it undiscovered for so long, along with the fact that its predominantly brown coloration camouflages the dwarf amphibian within its Manu National Park microhabitat.
Manu National Park is known as a “hotspot” in the Andean rainforests, meaning that it is a place teeming with plant and animal life. Noble's Pygmy Frog lives at an elevation above 3,000 meters, and is one of the smallest vertebrates ever found at this height. Most species tend to congregate at lower level regions.
Besides its size, the frog's other distinguishing feature is its remarkably long forefinger. Females lay only two eggs measuring about four millimeters in diameter. In contrast to most other amphibian species, these eggs are laid in moist, terrestrial microhabitats, such as in moss or leaf litter, and are protected from insect predators by the mother frog. Embryos do not change into aquatic tadpoles for this species, but instead are ready to hop onto substrate upon hatching.