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.
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.
Meet number three, Brachycephalus auroguttatus
Number four is Brachycephalus verrucosus.
Brachycephalus fuscolineatus, named fore its dark stripe, is number five.
The sixth, Brachycephalus leopardus received its name for its spots….
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
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.