Tiniest frog ever, just 0.4 inches long, stuns researchers in Brazilian rainforest



Researchers in Brazil have come across seven new species of colorful, miniature frogs deep in the country’s rain forest.

The frogs, part of the genus Brachycephalus, rarely exceed one centimeter (0.4 inches) in length and are believed to be some of the world's smallest terrestrial vertebrates. 

They come in an array of jellybean-like array of bright colors, with their showy hues meant as a warning to predators of the neurotoxins in the frogs' skin.

Given their tiny size and the fact that they live in isolated mountain regions – making it hard to traverse to other areas – interbreeding is common and have aided in the evolution of completely separate species from the frogs a mountaintop over.

"Such high success in uncovering new species might indicate that the total number of Brachycephalus is still underestimated," said Marcio Pie of the Universidade Federal do Paraná, according to LiveScience.

Their lack of mobility, however, also makes them an easy target for annihilation from climate change and other environmental threats in a region of Brazil that has seen widespread deforestation due to illegal logging and cattle ranching.

While the first distant relatives of these frogs were discovered in the 1800s, in the cloud forests of southern Brazil, the most recent species was found on an isolated mountaintop in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, in the states of Paraná and Santa Catarina.

"The species is known from a restricted area that is under a variety of sources of perturbation, including deforestation, fire, and cattle farming — even though it theoretically should have been protected given its current status as a private reserve (Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural)," the authors of a scientific report on the frogs wrote in the journal PeerJ. "Therefore, the conservation of this locality is necessary for the survival of this species."

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