A total of seven new brightly colored miniature frog species have been recently discovered by scientists in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. They are no more than 0,3 inches long, but they are extremely agile and resourceful. However, the new species are already in danger due to climate change and illegal deforestation.
The research was conducted by the Universidade Federal do Paraná and led by Professor Marcio Pie who wanted to look into the species diversity from the Atlantic Rainforest region in Brazil. And his research has proven to be extremely productive, as he discovered seven new species of miniature frogs, which is a very high number considering that there were only 18 beforehand.
These new species were included in the Brachycephalus family, due to their size and their physical and physiological features. The large specimens reach 1 cm in length and they are all extremely fast and agile. They are able to detect motion close to them through the vibration produced by it and so, they made it extremely difficult for Professor Pie to find them, since they immediately start running when they detect signs of possible threats.
Normally, they “sing” their frog song when they are together and this is an extremely useful feature that can be of great importance in finding them. But they are so reserved in their defense, that when they detect motion signals that they they interpret as threatening, they become quiet all of a sudden and they remain in total silence for about 20 minutes, so as not to give away their location.
All of the seven species include small frogs that bare bright colors, so as to send off a warning to those around them that they posses some kind of dangerous toxin and therefore, they are not to be meddled with. They come in bright yellow, juicy orange, leafy green and many more eye-popping colors.
There are several theories as to why they have reached such small sizes. Out of these, the most viable one is thought to be the island theory. This says that when certain species of animals find themselves isolated on an island, they evolve into smaller individuals, because of the scarce food sources.
In the case of the miniature frogs, that live isolated on high mountain tops, it can be considered that their habitat is similar to an island, in terms of isolation. Furthermore, another matter that bares great weight into the development of a certain species is the influence of the predators from that specific environment and the habitat conditions that it offers.
According to the research on this type of miniature frog, it seems that their size is not the only remarkable change in their evolutionary process. They have not only shrunk down to finger-nail size, but they have actually managed to skip one whole development stage in their life cycle.
Normally, frogs develop from eggs, from which emerge the small tadpoles that can easily be seen in ponds and small units of water rumbling about at the surface. Then, they reach a pre-adult stage, called a froglet, before eventually reaching the adult stage of the frog.
What these miniature frogs are able to do is skip the tadpole stage entirely. They have optimized their life cycle so that they are able to emerge from the eggs fully-developed to face the environment and thrive.
As for the name of the species, they were selected in order to symbolize a representative feature of that particular species. Brachycephalus mariaeterezae,for instance is an orange miniature frog, with bright blue spots all along its backbone. Brachycephalus olivaceus has olive-like green and brown coloration.
Brachycephalus verrucosus got its name because of its wart-riddles skin and Brachycephalus leopardus is truly worthy of its name with its yellow skin and black ornaments. They are truly a diverse and brightly colored bunch and they are absolutely gorgeous.
Unfortunately, these amazing small creatures that have just been discovered are already in danger due to the changes that are being waged upon its environment. Illegal logging is a popular practice in the region of the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil and it has made the small frogs climb higher and higher until now, when they have nowhere to climb any more.
Moreover, the effects of climate change are altering the local environment and their habitat conditions in terms of food sources, natural predators and dwelling space are in a continuous transformation, and not for the better.
Like so many other species, the miniature frogs greatly depend on the actions that are being taken to slow down the effects of climate change and global warming. And while these actions take a long time to be put into action, what the authorities can act on immediately is protecting the region from illegal logging and other corrosive man-made activities that destroy the environment.
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