World’s Smallest Fanged-Frog Species Found in the Indonesian Jungle of Sulawesi

World’s Smallest Fanged-Frog Species Found in the Indonesian Jungle of Sulawesi
Smallest frog found in Indonesia, fanged frog (illustration) |

The verdant, volcanic landscapes of Sulawesi in Indonesia are home to various species of frogs bearing teeth, some with peculiar reproductive behaviors. Among them is Limnonectes larvaepartus, the sole frog known globally to birth live tadpoles. Unveiling yet another secret, this tropical island now introduces the world's tiniest frog with fangs.

Linked to other fanged frog species, the recently identified Limnonectes phyllofolia conforms to the traditional method of laying amphibian eggs. A group of herpetologists from the United States and Indonesia stumbled upon a distinctive sight while trekking through the rainforest: leaves and mossy boulders elevated several feet above the ground, hosting glassy, black frog eggs.

This immediately captivated the researchers because frog eggs typically need water to prevent their gelatinous coating from drying. Soon after, they spotted coin-sized, mottled-brown frogs safeguarding their nests. Lead author Jeff Frederick, a wildlife ecologist at the Field Museum in Chicago, remarked, "Usually, when we search for frogs, we focus on stream banks or wade through streams to spot them directly in the water."

The new species of fanged frog, Limnonectes phyllofolia. (Sean Reilly)

However, their observation of frogs tending to nests perched on leaves was a departure from the norm. These guardian frogs coat their eggs with substances that maintain moisture and protect against bacteria and fungi. Surprisingly, all the attending frogs were male. Frederick noted, "While male egg-guarding behavior isn't unheard of in frogs, it's relatively rare."

This newfound frog species displayed minuscule teeth on its upper jaw and two small fangs on its lower jaw, an unusual trait as frogs typically only possess upper jaw teeth. Frederick highlighted, "Compared to other fanged frogs on the island, this new species is tiny."

Limnonectes phyllofolia eggs on a leaf. (Sean Reilly)

While Sulawesi hosts larger saber-toothed frogs, this new species weighs merely around two grams—approximately the weight of a dime. It earned the moniker Limnonectes phyllofolia, derived from "leaf-nester."

In Southeast Asia, numerous frog species evolved fangs for territorial battles, mating, and hunting prey like centipedes and crabs. Leaf-nesting frogs, not reliant on waterways for reproduction, may not need large fangs to compete in crowded streams for optimal egg-laying spots. This could elucidate the smaller fang size compared to other island frogs, as hypothesized by the researchers.

Prior studies revealed frog fangs evolving independently at least four times among all frog species. Examination of these species' behaviors and diets suggests that frog fangs evolving due to sexual selection tend to be relatively larger than those arising from other environmental pressures.

Fanged frogs have been discovered in Cambodia, Vietnam, West Africa, and South America. Scientists also identified fanged tadpoles of the vampire flying frog (Rhacophorus vampyrus) in the lush evergreen forests of southern Vietnam

Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
View all posts

Thank you for reading until here