Biologists have recently found seven new species of miniscule frogs in hard-to-reach locations across the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest. The newly found animals are among the world’s smallest amphibians with some of them only reaching 0.3 inch/1 cm during adulthood.
The frogs were classified under the genus Brachycephalus, a class of tiny frogs famous for their size and happy colors. Yet, despite them being really cute, they can become real nasty when they are bugged by predators. Researchers explained that their skin is highly poisonous even to medium-sized mammals.
The majority of Brachycephalus frogs are only found on a few mountaintops in the Brazilian rainforest. They, however, live in very small groups, secluded form one another due to large valleys that are hard to cross. Scientists said that the isolated clusters of frogs resembled “sky islands.”
Prof. Marcio Pie from the Brazilian Universidade Federal do Paraná was the leader of the expedition team that looked for the new species. He thought that the inaccessibility of the mountaintops may signal that undiscovered little animals may still hide there.
So he gathered a team and started to search for tiny frogs in the fog forests located in southern Brazil. Researchers classified the newly found tiny creatures into seven distinct species after their skin’s color and texture. They resemble other members of the Brachycephalus group due to their minuscule size, body shape and poor ability to jump.
Though the characteristics of the group were first described in early 19th century, the majority of its species were found in the last two decades mainly because scientists found it really difficult to reach the sites they usually dwell in.
“Field work usually involved from two to eight hours of steep trails to get to the sites, and the same time afterwards to get back,”
explained Prof Pie.
A review on the new findings was published Thursday in the journal PeerJ.
With Prof. Pie’s discovery of seven new species, the Brachycephalus group currently has 28 species. The research team hopes that more frogs would be discovered in the years to come.
On the other hand, the researchers are very concerned by what the future may hold for the tiny critters. They said that their limited habitat on a few remote areas on the mountaintops of Brazil’s cloud forest may lead to their extinction. Fog forests are currently threatened by deforestation, reckless agriculture and climate changes.
The team argued that preserving the forests was crucial not only to conservation, but also to future research on how “such high levels of biodiversity” appeared in the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest.
Image Source: Daily Mail
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