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article imageResearchers in Ecuador find minute new species of frog

By Igor I. Solar     May 11, 2010 in Science
Quito - Researchers of Ecuador have discovered a new species of frog at the Condor Mountain Range. Pristimantis minimus has been described as the smallest terrestrial vertebrate in Ecuador, and competes in tininess with other South American miniature frogs.
Andrea Terán and Juan Manuel Guayasamin, researchers at the Museum of Zoology, of the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, have discovered a tiny new species of amphibian. Females and males of this species, named Pristimantis minimus, are so small that a couple of them may not cover completely a 1 cent coin. The finding has been published in the Journal Zootaxa, based in New Zealand, under the auspices of the Ecuadorian National Science and Technology Secretariat (SENACYT). The paper describes the internal and external morphology of the frog and discusses the causes and consequences of the process of miniaturization.
See pictures of this miniature frog here
The finding of this diminutive amphibian adds to the knowledge of other extremely small South American frogs. Among the smallest frogs already known to science are the “Brazilian Gold Frog” (Brachycephalus didactylus) and the “Monte Iberia Eleuth” (Eleutherodactylus iberia), from Cuba. Fully grown adults of these species measure less than 1 cm. The gold frog lives in the forests near Río de Janeiro, Brazil, while the Monte Iberia frog, the smallest tetrapod alive, is found only in a few locations in Holguin Province in eastern Cuba. Another species among the little frogs is Rhinoderma darwinii or Darwin’s frog. This species lives in forests of central-south Chile. The adult male measures about 2.8 cm and the female about 3.1 cm.
Ecuador, with only 283,561 km2 (including the Galápagos Islands), is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. Here can be found over 16,000 species of plants, 1,600 bird species (15% of the world's known bird species) in the continental area, and 38 more that are endemic in the Galápagos. In addition, the country has 485 species of amphibians of which 138 are endemic, 106 species of endemic reptiles and 6,000 species of butterflies.
Terán-Valdez, Andrea & Guayasamin, Juan M. 2010. The Smallest Terrestrial Vertebrate of Ecuador: A New Frog of the Genus Pristimantis (Amphibia: Strabomantidae) from the Cordillera del Cóndor. Zootaxa 2447: 53–68.
Note: This is the first time this news appears in English language media (17:40 hrs. 11/05/2010)
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