Science

Huge Discovery of Seven Tiny Frog Species

Brachycephalus sp. from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Image credit: Luiz Fernando Ribeiro / CC BY SA.

One of the new Brachycephalus species discovered in Brazil. (Image credit: Luiz Fernando Ribeiro / CC BY SA.)

By Kristen E. Strubberg Editor-in-Chief

High in the montane Cloud Forests of southern Brazil, a research team from Universidade Federal do Paraná discovered seven previously unknown frog species, each on a different forested mountain peak. All belong to the genus Brachycephalus whose members average 10 millimeters in length. That’s only half the length of a U.S. penny!

The exploration team, lead by Professor Marcio Pie, combed through the trees and dense undergrowth – mostly moss – to explore the possibility of finding more Brachycephalus species since the genus’s definition 1842. The new species they found were all brilliantly colored and patterned. However, like so many animals, their bright coloration means “do not touch” as the frogs contain tetrodotoxin, a paralytic poison first isolated in pufferfish.

The first of the new species is Brachycephalus mariaeterezae.

Brachycephalus mariaeterezae in life.

Per the original article, the green-ish spots are actually blue. The photograph flash distorted the coloration. (Image Credit: Bornschein, Morato, Firkowski, Ribeiro & Pie)

The species name of this frog – mariaeterezae – commends the conservation efforts of environmentalist Maria Tereza Jorge Pádua. She continues her preservation efforts in Brazil and is the current president of Association Eco.

Brachycephalus olivaceus, the second species, derives its species name from the deep olive color of its skin.

Brachycephalus olivaceus in life.

(Image Credit: Bornschein, Morato, Firkowski, Ribeiro & Pie)

Meet number three, Brachycephalus auroguttatus

Brachycephalus auroguttatus in life.

(Image Credit: Ribeiro, Firkowski, Bornschein & Pie)

Number four is Brachycephalus verrucosus.

Brachycephalus verrucosus in life.

(Image Credit: Ribeiro, Firkowski, Bornschein & Pie)

Brachycephalus fuscolineatus, named fore its dark stripe, is number five.

Brachycephalus fuscolineatus in life.

(Image Credit: Ribeiro, Firkowski, Bornschein & Pie)

The sixth, Brachycephalus leopardus received its name for its spots….

Brachycephalus leopardus in life.

(Image Credit: Ribeiro, Firkowski, Bornschein & Pie)

Lucky number seven, Brachycephalus boticario, gets its name as a dedication to Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza, the primary backer of the research expedition

Brachycephalus boticario in life.

(Image Credit: Ribeiro, Firkowski, Bornschein & Pie)

According the original journal article, all species where found between approximately 600 and 1200 meters above sea level. All were residing on the forest floor, beneath fallen leaves, and seem to have been found by researchers following their vocalizations. Moreover, as mentioned before, each new species was located on a different mountain in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, an ecological phenomenon call “sky islands” in which very specific habitats – like those required by these teensy amphibians – are separated by valleys or lowlands inhospitable to the animal.

Read more at Sci-News and the read the original journal article at PeerJ.

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