Friday, 4 March 2011

Eleutherodactylus cosnipatae: World's smallest frog

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Leptodactylidae
Genus:  Eleutherodactylus
Species: Eleutherodactylus cosnipatae (Synonym: Pristimantis cosnipatae)
Conservation Status: Endangered
Common Name: Doesn't have one

Important Update: Since 2012, E. cosnipatae no longer holds the record for being the world's smallest frog. The current record holder is the newly discovered Paedophryne amauensiswhich also became the new record holder for smallest vertebrate. P. amauensis has an average length of only 7.7 millimetres (~0.3 inches).

Today's post is about Eleutherodactylus cosnipatae, the world's smallest frog. It occurs exclusively in the Cosñipata Valley, on the north-eastern slopes of the Cadena de Paucartambo, a frontal range of the Andean Cordillera Oriental in the Cusco Department of Peru.

There is very little research on the species and thus we know very little about it.

The species occurs in tall forests with bromeliads and luxuriant undergrowth of mosses and ferns. With the exception of a single individual that was found under a rock, all individuals have been sighted (or recorded calling),  at low vegetation in fog forests during the night.

Not much is known about the life cycle of this tiny frog. All we know is that it breeds by direct development, meaning that the tadpole stage is absent.

Conservation Status
Currently, the species is listed by the IUCN as endangered, because its extent of occurrence is believed to cover less than 5,000 km2. All individuals occur in fewer than five locations, and there seems to be a declining trend in their populations. The same applies to the extent and quality of the species habitat, mainly due to the small-scale agriculture that takes place within the Cosñipata valley.

For now, only a part of the species habitat is well protected within Parque Nacional Manu.

- Lily Rodríguez, Jorge Luis Martinez, Wilfredo Arizabal 2004. Pristimantis cosnipatae. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 May 2014.
- Rittmeyer EN, Allison A, Gründler MC, Thompson DK, & Austin CC (2012). Ecological guild evolution and the discovery of the world's smallest vertebrate. PloS one, 7 (1) PMID: 22253785

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