Researchers have uncovered a tiny Brazilian frog that may be the world’s smallest vertebrate. The flea toad, officially known as Brachycephalus pulex, was first discovered in 2011 and has been found to be smaller than the previous record-holder, the Paedophryne amauensis from Papua New Guinea. In this study, scientists measured the body lengths of 46 flea toads and confirmed their maturity and sex by examining their gonads and checking for the presence of vocal slits in their throats, unique to males.
The adult male flea toads average just over 7 millimetres in length, making them smaller than the females and smaller than the previous smallest amphibian. However, the smallest specimen found in the study was just 6.45 millimetres in length, which is 30 percent smaller than any adult male frog previously seen. At such small scales, these frogs develop unusual anatomical features such as losing toes or having underdeveloped ears.
Despite this discovery, there may still be even smaller vertebrates undiscovered. Researchers are eager to find out if there may be another tiny frog or an even smaller vertebrate that holds the record for the world’s smallest. With further research and exploration, who knows what other surprises await us in the world of science?