Scientists have discovered the smallest vertebrate on Earth


14/01/2012

Tropical forest in Papua - New Guinea - a very noisy place, where even at night you can hear the croaking of frogs, chirping birds and the sound of cicadas strekotnyu other animals. But one sound in particular caught the attention of herpetologist Christopher Austin and his graduate student assistant Eric Rittmeyera.Vmeste they tried to fix the location being that they first took over the insect, which makes an unusual noise. Find it was not so easy in a heap of fallen leaves, therefore, to determine the approximate location of the creatures, they took off the ground armful of leaves and put them in a small plastic bag. Then, in the camp, inspecting every leaf on one of them they found a frog microscopic size, called later Paedophryne amanuensis. This frog was awarded the title of the smallest vertebrate on Earth. Although it was discovered in 2009, researchers were able to publish information about its opening was only nedavno.Predshestvuyuschim record fish that lives in peat swamps of Indonesia, called Paedocypris progenetica. But now the smallest frog is an animal with an average length of 7.7 millimeters from nose to tail spine. It is so small that it can easily fit on a 10 cent coin. "We do not really know what they eat, and we know very little about their ecology," - said the head of Austin Department of Herpetology at the Museum of Natural Sciences of the University of Louisiana. "They probably eat very small invertebrates that live in the leaf litter such as mites." Small amphibian frog belongs to the genus of small size, which includes another recently discovered species (Paedophryne swiftorum), described in the journal PLoS ONE. Paedophryne swiftorum little more than the new record holder, this species was found a year earlier and in Papua - New Guinea. Considering the genetic data of miniature frogs and other species, the research team concluded that during the evolution of animals decreased in size by 11 times. "This is not the only species in which there is such a feature. Actually it is a universal phenomenon that we trace almost all species of frogs "- said Austin.Pochti all the other little frogs, the size of which does not exceed more than 13 millimeters, live in the same environment, hidden in the ever-wet leaf litter of tropical forests. This moist environment solves a very important problem for frogs. The small size corresponds to the scale of habitat that prevents the risk of drying the skin of frogs and as a result of their death.

Original: LiveScience


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