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Mine's Smaller! Claim About Tiny Frog Is Challenged

The tiny frog called <em>Paedophryne amauensis</em>, sitting on a dime.
Christopher Austin
AFP/Getty Images
The tiny frog called Paedophryne amauensis, sitting on a dime.

Sure, it's tiny. But is it the tiniest?

There's a frog in Papua New Guinea that researchers announced this week is "the smallest known vertebrate species" (that is, a creature with a spine).

It's so small, in fact, that the picture posted by the journal PLoS One with the scientists' report shows the little Paedophryne amauensis sitting on a dime with plenty of room to spare.

The discoverers say the frog's average body length is 7.7 mm (about three-tenths of an inch).

And now comes the challenge. According to The Associated Press:

"The males of a species of deep-sea anglerfish are about 2 mm smaller, said University of Washington ichthyologist Theodore Pietsch, who described them in 2006. The males don't have stomachs and live as parasites on 1.8-inch (4.57-centimeter)-long females."

[We'll say it before someone else does: Guys would do that, wouldn't they?]

Louisiana State University herpetologist and environmental biologist Christopher Austinm, who discovered the little frogs, tells the AP "he knew about the anglerfish but felt that average species size [including males and females] made more sense for comparison."

As for the frogs, the BBC says finding them "was not an easy assignment. They are well camouflaged among leaves on the forest floor, and have evolved calls resembling those of insects, making them hard to spot."

If you'd like to hear the short clicking sound the frogs make, check this interactive webpage from the AP.

(H/T to NPR.org's Scott Neuman.)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.