Last week, a pea-sized frog species – thought to be the Old World’s tiniest – was recognized as a species new to science. Dr. Indraneil Das, leader of the research team that found the frogs on the island of Borneo, describes the moment of discovery.
We first ran into this frog late at night on September 4, 2004, at Kubah National Park in Sarawak (a state in Malaysian Borneo).
We had just completed our field work at a nearby pond, monitoring the local amphibians breeding there with our students from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. My colleague from Hamburg, Alex Haas, and I were looking forward to returning to our chalet (and a cooked meal), when we heard an unfamiliar call.
Looking down, we didn’t see much. Only after lying down flat on the ground could we see the tiniest frog imaginable! It took us a good 30 minutes to catch the first of several specimens we were to eventually acquire.
Other researchers before us had collected the species, but they presumably thought they were the young of another species. However, the frogs’ calls convinced us that we were dealing with adults (as only adult frogs make these vocalizations), and after comparison with museum specimens in the United States, Europe, and Asia, the species proved to be new to science.
The 10.6-12.8mm frog was formally described on August 19, 2010 in a paper in the taxonomic journal Zootaxa.
Dr. Indraneil Das
Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation
This species discovery was not part of CI’s “Search for the Lost Frogs” campaign; however, in September Dr. Das will join our search, leading a scientific team on an expedition to find the Sambas Stream Toad (Ansonia latidisca) in Indonesia and Malaysia.