Scientific Discoveries. What is the smallest vertebrate?

Scientific Discoveries. What is the smallest vertebrate?
Yareah Magazine

Scientific discoveries. What is the smallest vertebrate? A frog from New Guinea identified and named by Bishop Museum scientists in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Frog courtesy of Bishop Museum in Honolulu

BISHOP MUSEUM DISCOVERIES MAKE TOP 10 LIST. Paedophryne amauensis, the World’s Smallest Frog and Eugenia petrikensis, a Rare Shrub, Among Top Species Identified in 2012

A global committee of taxonomists— scientists responsible for species exploration and classification, included the world’s smallest vertebrate – a frog from New Guinea called Paedophryne amauensis, and Eugenia petrikensis an endangered shrub found in Madagascar on the Top 10 List of Species of 2012. The frog and shrub were identified and named by Bishop Museum scientists Dr. Allen Allison and Dr. Neil Snow, respectively.

“We are excited that the discoveries made by Bishop Museum scientists are being recognized by the larger science community,” said Blair Collis, President and CEO of Bishop Museum. “For over 120 years, Bishop Museum has been the leader on bio-diversity in the Pacific-region, and this accolade illustrates the continuance of that work and its impacts on science as a whole.”

The announcement, put out by Arizona State University’s International Institute for Species Exploration, coincides with the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus— the 18th century Swedish botanist responsible for the modern system of scientific names and classifications. Members of the international committee received more than 140 nominated species. To be considered, species must have been described in compliance with the appropriate code of nomenclature, whether botanical, zoological or microbiological, and have been officially named during 2012.

Paedophryne amauensis was discovered by Dr. Allen Allison and a team of researchers near Amau village in Papua, New Guinea. It captures the title of ‘smallest living vertebrate’ from a tiny Southeast Asian cyprinid fish that claimed the record in 2006. The adult frog size, determined by averaging the lengths of both males and females, is only 7.7 millimeters. With few exceptions, this and other ultra-small frogs are associated with moist leaf litter in tropical wet forests — suggesting a unique ecological guild that could not exist under drier circumstances.

Snow’s E. petrikensis is one of seven new species described from the littoral forest of eastern Madagascar and is considered to be an endangered species. It is the latest evidence of the unique and numerous species found in this specialized, humid forest that grows on sandy substrate within kilometers of the shoreline. Once forming a continuous band 1,600 kilometers long, the littoral forest has been reduced to isolated, vestigial fragments under pressure from human populations.

About Bishop Museum 1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96817

The Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in memory of his wife Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I. Today, the Museum is recognized as the principal museum of the Pacific, housing the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts and natural history specimens. More than 350,000 people visit the Museum each year, including over 40,000 schoolchildren. For more information, please call (808) 847-3511 or visit

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