Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Dwarf in The Elfin Forests - Scientists Discovered The Tiniest Frog in South America's Andes Mountains

06.04.2009
It fits on a fingertip: Noblella pygmaea is a midget frog, the smallest ever found in the Andes and among the smallest amphibians in the world.
Only its croaking was to be heard from the leaves on the mossier ground of the "elfin forests" in the highlands of Manu National Park, before German and Peruvian herpetologists discovered the tiny little thing in south-eastern Peru.

Noblella pygmaea - Midget frog that fits on a fingertip. Alessandro Catenazzi, University of California, Berkeley (USA)

The popular name of the new species is fitting: Noble's Pygmy Frog has an average length of 11.4 millimeters.

It was introduced in a paper recently published in the journal Copeia by Edgar Lehr, a German herpetologist at the Senckenberg Natural History Collection Dresden, and the Swiss-Peruvian ecologist Alessandro Catenazzi from the University of California at Berkeley, USA. - The pygmy that fits on a fingertip, was discovered during field work in the Wayqecha Research Station. Not only its small size left it undiscovered for so long. Its predominantly brown colour camougflages Noblella perfectly. But Noble's Pygmy Frog could be spotted with the assistance of the members of the native communities adjacent to the Manu National Park.

Manu National Park is well known as "hotspot" in the lowland rainforests, a place of exuberant diversity; however the biosphere reserve also preserves vast areas of montane cloud forests, where the sempiternal mists envelop and often conceal plants and animals. In the countless ecological niches many of them were able to evolve undisturbed and are highly adapted to the cold and permanently humidity at a daily average temperature of 11° Celsius. Genetic studies show that the diversity of amphibians in general and especially in this region is highly underestimated. That is why Lehr and Catenazzi think that Noblella pygmaea is only one of many undiscovered amphibians in the Andes mountain area. The scientists expect to find other new species during the next few years.

Currently the midget frog is one of the smallest vertebrates ever found above 3000 metres, where most species tend to be larger than congeneric or similar species in lowland areas. Noblella pygmaea inhabits the cloud forest, the montane scrub and the high-elevation grasslands at a height from 3025 to 3190 metres above sea level. Beside its size the remarkably long forefinger is a notable distinguishing feature that was not found at other pygmy frogs in the mountains of Peru. - The females lay only two eggs of approximately four millimeter in diameter. In contrast to most amphibian species these eggs are laid in moist, terrestrial microhabitats, such as in moss or leave litter, and are protected from insect predators by the mother frog. It is noteworthy also that embryos do not change into aquatic tadpoles, but immediately after the hatching lead a fully terrestrial life.

Whilst the scientists cannot give a reason for Noblella's minute size, it is apparently advantageous. Maybe it is perfectly adopted to its special niche. The fact, that the species is not forced to leave its habitat - not even for egg deposition - might protect it from natural enemies. - Despite living in the Manu Biosphere Reserve the survival of the midget frog and of other amphibians is uncertain. Several adverse influences such as anthropogenic habitat changes and the effects of global warming, which among other things facilitates the dispersal of the highly virulent pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, threaten amphibians of the Andean region. Fotunately the fungus, which has become epidemic, has not been noticed on Noblella so far. Possibly because of its terrestrial life Noblella is less exposed to the fungus than stream-dwelling frogs.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is suspected to be the cause of the extinction of many frog species in Ecuador and northern Peru and is currently decimating populations of high-elevation frogs in southern Peru. Up to now no effective means are known for stopping the expansion of fungal infections in the region. Researchers hope that the large topographic heterogeneity of the Andes cordilleras will provide refugia where the fungus is unable to cause massive population declines in amphibian species, thus ensuring the survival of the dwarf in the Andean "elfin forests". (dve, BW)

Notes to Editors

1. The paper "A new species of minute Noblella (Anura: Strabomantidae) from southern Peru: the smallest frog of the Andes" by Edgar Lehr and A. Catenazzi is published in Copeia 2009 (1): 148-156. - Copies of the paper can be obtained on request from the press office (details below).

2. Edgar Lehr is Herpetologist at the Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden,

Königsbrücker Landstraße 159, 01109 Dresden, Germany

3. Alessandro Catenazzi, is ecologist at the dpt. for Integrative Biology, University of California, 3060 Valley Life Science Bldg # 3140, Berkeley CA 94720-3140

4. Larger images of the following and more pictures can be obtained from the press office (details below). Copyright for all: Alessandro Catenazzi

Press Contact:
Doris von Eiff, Press Officer, doris.voneiff@senckenberg.de, +49 (0)69 7542 1257 or

+49 (0)173 54 50 196 and Barbara Wolfart, Trainee in the press office, barbara.wolfart@senckengerg.de, +49 (0)69 7542 1519

Contact:
Dr. Edgar Lehr
edgar.lehr@senckenberg.de, tel.: +49 (0)351-8926315
Alessandro Catenazzi, PhD
acatenazzi@gmail.com, tel.: +1 305 396 2626

Doris von Eiff | idw
Further information:
http://www.senckenberg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>