Pygmy Andean Frog Discovered at ACA’s Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Center

April 22, 2009

Pygmy Andean Frog on man's handThe Andean region’s smallest known frog was recently discovered in the cloud forest near Peru’s Manu National Park.  Over the past two years, 10 new frog species have been found in the forest around ACA’s Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Station, which sits 9,824 feet above sea level in the department of Cusco. 

Smaller than a dime, the Noble’s pygmy frog (Noblella pygmae) surprised herpetologists Pygmy Andean Frog studying at Wayqecha because it contradicts the informal rule that high altitude vertebrates tend to be larger than low altitude vertebrates.  Noble’s pygmy frog is among the smallest vertebrates ever found at this altitude, and one of the smallest amphibian species in the world.

In addition to its exceptionally small size, the species is unique because females lay only two eggs at a time, and instead of passing through an aquatic tadpole stage, baby frogs are land dwelling as soon as they hatch, which is possible thanks to the moist cloud forest habitat. Edgar Lehr from the Senckenberg Natural History Collection in Dresden, Germany and Swiss-Peruvian ecologist Alessandro Catenazzi from the University of California at Berkeley describe this new species in the latest issue of the journal Copeia.