Scientists Discover Smallest Frog

November 25, 1996

A new frog discovered in Cuba is the smallest in the Northern Hemisphere and is tied for the world record with the smallest frog in the Southern Hemisphere, say a team of biologists from Cuba and Penn State.

The one-centimeter-long frog also is the smallest of the tetrapods, a grouping that includes all animals with backbones except fishes, according to a paper to be published in the December 1996 issue of the journal Copeia by Cuban scientist Alberto R. Estrada and Penn State Professor of Biology S. Blair Hedges.

Estrada discovered the tiny orange-striped black frog living under leaf litter and among the roots of ferns in a humid rainforest on the western slope of Cuba's Monte Iberia. Hedges and Estrada gave it the scientific name Eleutherodactylus iberia, which in print is more than three times as long as the frog itself.

Hedges has teamed with Estrada and other Cuban scientists to find many new species of snakes, lizards, and frogs in Cuba's rainforests during the past several years, including a lizard tied for the record of world's tiniest. "You don't often find species that are the smallest, especially in a big group like tetrapods," he adds.

Cuban scientists restricted by that country's economic conditions typically have teamed with foreign colleagues in order to carry on their work since the onset of severe economic hardships triggered by the fall of the Soviet Union. "The tropical forests in Cuba are even more fragile and more threatened than those in the Amazon of South America because they are so small--less than 10 percent of the island's land area--and they are now being cut down at an increasing rate, mainly for subsistence farming and cooking fuel," Hedges adds. "We still have an incomplete knowledge of the biodiversity on this planet, including areas like Cuba that are very close to the United States."

This research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

< B K K >

CONTACTS: S. Blair Hedges, 814-865-9991,
Barbara K. Kennedy, 814-863-4682, (for a color photo of the frog, the text of the paper, or other assistnace)


Penn State

Related Tropical Forests Articles from Brightsurf:

Restoring degraded tropical forests generates big carbon gains
An international team of scientists from 13 institutions has provided the first long-term comparison of aboveground carbon recovery rates between naturally regenerating and actively restored forests in Malaysian Borneo.

Warming threat to tropical forests risks release of carbon from soil
Billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide risk being lost into the atmosphere due to tropical forest soils being significantly more sensitive to climate change than previously thought.

New global study shows 'best of the last' tropical forests urgently need protection
The world's 'best of the last' tropical forests are at significant risk of being lost, according to a paper released today in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Scientists identify a temperature tipping point for tropical forests
Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas, released as fossil fuels are burned.

Tropical forests can handle the heat, up to a point
Tropical forests face an uncertain future under climate change, but new research published in Science suggests they can continue to store large amounts of carbon in a warmer world, if countries limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Long-term resilience of Earth's tropical forests in warmer world
A long-term assessment of the sensitivity of hundreds of tropical forest plots to increasing temperatures brings encouraging news: in the long run, Earth's tropical forests may be more resilient to a moderately warming world than short-term predictions have suggested.

Online tool helps to protect tropical forests
A new tool maps the threats to the tropical dry forests in Peru and Ecuador.

A glimpse into the future of tropical forests
Tropical forests are a hotspot of biodiversity. Against the backdrop of climate change, their protection plays a special role and it is important to predict how such diverse forests may change over decades and even centuries.

Shedding light on how much carbon tropical forests can absorb
Tropical forest ecosystems are an important part of the global carbon cycle as they take up and store large amounts of CO2.

Tropical forests' carbon sink is already rapidly weakening
The ability of the world's tropical forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere is decreasing, according to a study tracking 300,000 trees over 30 years, published today in Nature.

Read More: Tropical Forests News and Tropical Forests Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to