Smaller than a Dime, the World’s Tiniest Frog Has Been Discovered

A big discovery yields the world's most miniature vertebrate

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Christopher Austin / Louisiana State University / AP

Paedophryne amauensis, sitting on a U.S. dime in Papua New Guinea, has been named the world's smallest vertebrate

Measuring roughly a quarter of an inch, the Paedophryne amauensis frog has been crowned the tiniest vertebrate in the world. This newly discovered frog is so small, it can rest comfortably on a U.S. dime or a fingernail. Discovered by a team of American researchers from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the frog was located deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea in 2009. On Wednesday, the science journal PLoS One dubbed the frog with the teeny-tiny honor.

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With the discovery of this petite leaper, the world’s former smallest frogs — the Brazilian gold frog (Brachycephalus didactylus) and the slightly larger Monte Iberia Eleuth (Eleutherodactylus iberia) — have been knocked down to second and third place, respectively. And the world’s former smallest vertebrate, a tiny type of fish known as Paedocypris progenetica, has been stripped of its title as well. Tough break, guys.

While many are going hopping mad over the littlest (and possibly cutest) new frog, Steven J. Beaupre, from the University of Arkansas and president-elect of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, says that the discovery is also a boon for scientists. He told the Associated Press that the new species will help scientists better “understand the advantages and disadvantages of extreme small size and how such extremes evolve. Fundamentally, these tiny vertebrates provide a window on the principles that constrain animal design.”

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