Minimum, miniscule and miniature are not just synonyms for something very small; they are now the official scientific names for three tiny frog species recently discovered on the island of Madagascar.
Mark Scherz, an evolutionary biologist from Germany described the frogs as “astronomically small” and as his tweet below shows, he was trying to be funny with the names after coining the new genus ‘Mini’.
Just published in @PLOSONE!! Meet Mini, the newest genus of frogs from Madagascar!! With three new species: Mini mum, Mini scule, and Mini ature, because I am HILARIOUS. https://t.co/7iPKJPBkId#MiniFrogs #NewSpecies #Miniaturisation #science pic.twitter.com/hAwjfuJlA3
— Mark D. Scherz (@MarkScherz) March 27, 2019
Introducing the newly discovered frogs
Found in Manombo in eastern Madagascar, it is one of the smallest frogs in the world, reaching an adult body size of 8-11 mm. It isn’t just one of the smallest frogs in the world, but is also among the smallest vertebrates (animals with backbones)!
From Sainte Luce in southeastern Madagascar, this is also around 8-11 mm in size and actually has teeth in its upper jaw.
Found in Andohahela in southeast Madagascar – a bit larger than the others at 14mm long but is similar in build and is the about the length of a microSD card or human fingernail.
The names are not only hilarious but also informative as they accurately describe the tiny creatures and can help to make science fun and interesting. These microfrogs probably evolved to hunt equally small prey such as ants and termites and to hide from predators. Their size made them difficult to find and even more difficult to capture to study, and the scientists had to listen for their calls to track them.
Madagascar is one of the best places in the world to study reptiles and amphibians but its forests are dwindling at an alarming rate. This discovery is an encouraging sign even while more and more species of plants and animals are becoming extinct every day.
Written by: Zarir De Vitre. Zarir is a Mumbai based sustainability consultant. He enjoys drinking tea, playing with Lego, and football and basketball.