Biology, ecology and biomedical science at Brighton

University of Brighton biosciences blog

Sammuel Penny examining a frog in Madagascar

Hopping onto the world’s stage – meet the new species of frog no bigger than a 5p coin

A Brighton scientist has co-discovered a new, tiny species of frog – just 1cm in length – and it is already being classed as critically endangered.

The miniature stump-toed ‘Stumpffia’ froschaueri, a member of a frog genus which is endemic to Madagascar, was discovered in north-western region of the island and differs from all others in colour and body make-up.

The frog’s known distribution is limited to three forest patches which, according to the scientists, are “severely threatened by fire, drought and high levels of forest clearance, thus suggesting a classification of “Critically Endangered” according to IUCN Red List criteria”.

Dr Samuel Penny, lecturer in the University of Brighton’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, has just had a paper on the discovery published in ZooKeys.

He was a member of a team of scientists on an expedition to the island off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

The frog, he said, was about the size of a 5p piece: “This small and inconspicuous frog measures around 1cm in length and inhabits the leaf litter of relatively undisturbed forests. Habitat loss across its limited range suggests it should qualify as Critically Endangered

“The species name honours Christoph Froschauer (ca. 1490 – 1564), a renowned printer whose family name means “the man from the floodplain full of frogs”. Froschauer used to sign his books with a woodcut showing frogs under a tree.

“It’s amazing to find a completely new variety of frog but it’s worrying to know they are already threatened with extinction.”

Stephanie Thomson • May 21, 2020

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