Old World’s smallest frog is discovered in Borneo

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.

© Prof. Indraneil Das/ Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental ConservationWe 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.

(Listen to the frogs’ calls for yourself!)

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.

DISCOVER: Learn more about this species and see its size comparison >>

© Prof. Alexander Haas

Courtesy of Dr. Das

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.

Follow the search! >>


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  2. Linda Teddlie Minton says

    Dr. Das, congratulations on this exciting new find! I was unable to find a way to contact you personally … I would like your permission to use one or both of your published images in a piece of fiber-art I am planning. This would be an interpretation of the images in cloth and stitch. Would you please contact me? Thanks; and again, congratulations to you and Dr. Haas.

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  4. Ma.Irene Q.Mesaya says

    I’m sorry what I’ve found last Aug.26, 2010 was not a pea-sized frog professors said that it was just a baby frog.

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  6. Shenelle says

    Hello I live in the twin island repubic of Trinidad and Tobago (2 islands one country), I live on te island Trinidad.I made the most remarkable discovery while I was bathing! I saw a black spot about 1mm in size on the wall. Thinking it was grime, I was going to wash it off but when I took a closer look I realized it had legs and eyes! I thought this was most remarkable! I never saw frogs that small before! And that wasn’t the first time! On many other occasions I saw it. I hope you read my comment! And I hope you visit Trinidad and Tobago! You will make alot of amazing discoveries here!

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  8. Anna says

    I was researching for my university biology essay and I found this, it looks like it will be perfect! Unfortunately my university doesn’t subscribe to the Zootaxa journal that your paper is published in. I was wondering if you couldn’t provide me with a copy? that would be great.


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