LSU’s Chris Austin recently discovered two new species of frogs in New Guinea, one of which is now the world’s tiniest known vertebrate, averaging only 7.7 millimeters in size — less than one-third of an inch. It ousts Paedocypris progenetica, an Indonesian fish averaging more than 8 millimetres, from the record. Austin, leading a team of scientists from the United States including LSU graduate student Eric Rittmeyer, made the discovery during a three-month long expedition to the island of New Guinea, the world’s largest and tallest tropical island.
“It was particularly difficult to locate Paedophryne amauensis due to its diminutive size and the males’ high pitched insect-like mating call,” said Austin. “But it’s a great find. New Guinea is a hotspot of biodiversity, and everything new we discover there adds another layer to our overall understanding of how biodiversity is generated and maintained.”
Austin, curator of herpetology at LSU’s Museum of Natural Science and associate professor of biological sciences, is no stranger to discovering new species, having described numerous species previously unknown to science, including frogs, lizards and parasites.