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Miniature, Brilliantly Colored Frogs Found in Brazil

posted: 06/04/15
by: Danny Clemens
Brachycephalus frog
Luiz Fernando Ribeiro

Researchers have discovered seven new species of gorgeous, miniature frogs hidden away in the Brazilian rainforest. All members of the colored frog genus Brachycephalus, the small amphibians rarely exceed 1 centimeter in length, and are believed to be some of the world's smallest terrestrial vertebrates.

The frogs sport stunning, fluorescent skin tones, which researchers believe ward off predators by signifying the presence of a highly potent neurotoxin in the frogs' skin. One of their cousins, B. ephippium, is equipped with the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin, leading researchers to believe that some of the new species could also have that added protection. The seven new species also have a noticeably different texture than other species in their genus.

Biologists are already concerned about the frogs' long-term survival: the highly endemic frogs are only found in cloud forests atop a handful of mountaintops in southern Brazil. They are highly sensitive to climate change, and are unable to migrate to other mountaintops to escape habitat destruction.

Although the frogs' mountaintop home isn't exactly the most accessible habitat, researchers say that the payoff of discovering the new species was worth the five years of effort that went into the study:

"Although getting to many of the field sites is exhausting, there was always the feeling of anticipation and curiosity about what new species could look like", said study lead author Marcio Pie.

Click here to read the full study in the journal PeerJ

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