BORNEO – Big things come in small packages. Scientists have made an incredible discovery!
In a search for “lost amphibians,” scientists discovered the smallest frog known on the Asian, European, or African continents – and one of the world’s tiniest frogs. The micro frogs, named Microhyla nepenthicola, grows to a staggering 0.4 to 0.5 inches long – roughly the size of a pea.
The amphibian was discovered living inside pitcher plants in the jungles of Borneo, on the edge of a road in Kubah National Park. The discovery is significant because the team of scientists are searching for the world’s lost amphibians, species considered to be extinct that may still have remnant populations.
“I saw some specimens in museum collections that are over 100 years old,” biologist Indraneil Das, one of the scientists, said in a press release. “Scientists presumably thought they were juveniles of other species, but it turns out they are adults of this newly-discovered micro species.”
The tiny frogs form an interesting relationship with the pitcher plants in which they were discovered – symbiotic if you will. Pitcher plants, nepenthes ampullaria, get their name thanks to their globular protuberances which collect and hold water in the damp, shady forests where they grow. The micro-frogs deposit their eggs on the walls of the plant’s pitcher, and the tadpoles grow and metamorphose in the still waters.
Amphibians constitute the most threatened members of the animal family, fully one-third of these species faces extinction. Amphibians are important for controlling insects that can spread disease or harm crops, as well as helping to maintain freshwater ecosystems.