LSU Biologist Leads Team That Finds World’s Smallest Vertebrate

January 12, 2012

Researchers have found two new frog species in New Guinea, one of which is the new smallest known vertebrate on Earth, with a body size of less than a third of an inch.

The research team was led by Christopher Austin of Louisiana State University. Austin, an associate professor of biology, also is head curator of the amphibian and reptile collection at the university’s Museum of Natural Science.

The new smallest vertebrate species is called Paedophryne amauensis, named after Amau Village in Papua New Guinea, where it was found. The adult body size for these frogs ranges from just 7.0 to 8.0 millimeters — 0.275 to 0.314 of an inch.

According to Austin, the discovery “is of considerable interest to biologists because little is understood about the functional constraints that come with extreme body size, whether large or small”. The previous smallest vertebrate was a fish, called Paedocypris progenetica, with an adult size of 7.9 to 10.3 millimeters.

The results are reported in the January 11 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.

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