Science & Environment

Smallest frog in Asia discovered in Borneo

Microhyla nepenthicola, a new species of frog discovered in Borneo
Adult male Microhyla nepenthicola grow to approximately one centimetre in length

Researchers on an expedition in Borneo have found a new and very tiny species of frog.

Male adults of the new species, named Microhyla nepenthicola, grow to approximately one centimetre in length.

The researchers first discovered the diminutive red and orange amphibian on an expedition to Kubah National Park in 2004.

They have now described the discovery in the journal Zootaxa.

The team found the frog when it emerged from a small pitcher plant, Nepenthes ampullaria, in which it lives.

The plant lives off decomposing organic matter that collects in its deep pitcher-shaped cavity. The little frog uses this as a habitat.

It lays its eggs there and when the tadpoles hatch, they live in the gathered organic goo until they mature.

Apart from its size, the amphibian has some unique features that set it apart from other species.

The scientists believe that its miniaturisation and "reduced webbing" may be the result of it having to navigate the slippery zone of the pitcher plants on which it depends.

Scientists Indraneil Das from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, and Alexander Haas from the University of Hamburg in Germany, discovered and described the species, which they named after the plant.

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