Paedophryne amauensis

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Paedophryne amauensis
Paratype of Paedophryne amauensis (LSUMZ 95004).png
Paratype of Paedophryne amauensis (LSUMZ 95004) on a U.S. dime (diameter 18 mm)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Microhylidae
Genus: Paedophryne
P. amauensis
Binomial name
Paedophryne amauensis
Rittmeyer et al. 2012[2]

Paedophryne amauensis is a species of microhylid frog from Papua New Guinea. At 7.7 mm (0.30 in) in snout–to–vent length, it is considered the world's smallest known vertebrate.[2][3]

The species was listed in the Top 10 New Species 2013 by the International Institute for Species Exploration for discoveries made during 2012.[4][5][6]


The frog species was discovered in August 2009 by Louisiana State University herpetologist Christopher Austin and his PhD student Eric Rittmeyer while on an expedition to explore the biodiversity of Papua New Guinea.[7] The new species was found near Amau village in the Central Province, from which its specific name is derived.[2] The discovery was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS One in January 2012.[2]

Because the frogs have calls that resemble those made by insects and are camouflaged among leaves on the forest floor, Paedophryne amauensis were difficult to detect. While recording nocturnal frog calls in the forest, Austin and Rittmeyer used triangulation to identify the source of an unknown animal and discovered the frogs by scooping up handfuls of leaf litter and putting it into plastic bags where they spotted the tiny frog hopping around.[1]

A relative comparison of the world's smallest frogs; behind them is a US dime, which is 17.9 mm in diameter, for scale


An X-ray image of a Paedophryne amauensis paratype

P. amauensis, attaining an average body size of only 7.7 millimetres (0.30 in),[2] is 0.2 millimetres (0.0079 in) smaller than the previous record-holder as the world's smallest vertebrate, a species of cyprinid fish (Paedocypris progenetica; 7.9 mm [0.31 in]) from Indonesia and a species of goby fish (Schindleria brevipinguis; 7.7 mm [0.30 in]) from Australia.[8][9]

The frog lives on land and its life cycle does not include a tadpole stage.[8] Instead, members of this species hatch as 'hoppers': miniatures of the adults.[7] The skeleton is reduced and there are only seven presacral vertebrae present.[2] They are capable of jumping thirty times their body length. The frog is crepuscular and feeds on small invertebrates. Males call for mates with a series of very high-pitched insect-like peeps at a frequency of 8400–9400 Hz.[2]


Due to having a high surface to volume ratio, the Paedophryne amauensis are subject to water-loss and dependent on the high-moisture content of leaf litter.[2] Similar to all species of Paedophryne known so far, members of Paedophryne amauensis live in the leaf litter on the floors of tropical forests.[2]


  1. ^ a b Black, Richard (11 January 2012). "World's smallest frog discovered". BBC News. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rittmeyer, Eric N.; Allison, Allen; Gründler, Michael C.; Thompson, Derrick K.; Austin, Christopher C. (2012). "Ecological guild evolution and the discovery of the world's smallest vertebrate". PLoS ONE. Public Library of Science. 7 (1): e29797. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029797. PMC 3256195. PMID 22253785. Retrieved 11 January 2012. (See also Ecological guild.)
  3. ^ "World's tiniest frogs found in Papua New Guinea". The Australian. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  4. ^ Newswise (22 May 2013). "Scientists Announce Top 10 New Species". Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Newswise, Inc. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  5. ^ Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (22 May 2013). "Top 10 new species of 2012". ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, LLC. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  6. ^ Varma S (23 May 2013). "Amazing top 10 new species include glowing cockroach, tiniest vertebrate and new monkey". The Times of India. Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 2013-05-24.
  7. ^ a b "Tiny frog claimed as world's smallest vertebrate". The Guardian. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  8. ^ a b "World's smallest creature with a vertebrate named". The Daily Telegraph. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Hallan en Papúa Nueva Guinea a las ranas más pequeñas del mundo" (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 January 2012.

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