Teri Wilson
June 05, 2015 11:38 am

Picture this: a frog tinier than a Skittle, and just as brightly colored. It sounds too cute to be real, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.

Seven new frog species were recently discovered in the rain forests of Brazil, and basically they look like something that poured out of an M&Ms bag. The frogs belong to the the genus Brachycephalus, which, unsurprisingly, is a group rather famous for its teeny tiny, froggy members. Their flashy colors are actually a warning that their skin holds highly poisonous toxins. So look out, predators! They’re basically the rock stars of frogs, as far as we’re concerned.

The newly discovered frogs have the same basic body shape and appearance as they other members of Brachycephalus. They also share another common trait—poor jumping ability. But hey, you can’t have everything, right? No biggie (pun intended).

How have these tiny cuties gone undiscovered until now? Not because of their minuscule size, even though that probably didn’t help matters, but because they make their home in a very remote part of the mountaintops of Brazil in cloud forests. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? The cloud forests are even isolated from one another by valleys, so scientists refer to them as sky islands.

Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná and a member of the team that discovered the frogs, says the sky islands were specifically targeted as a potential habitat for previously undiscovered animal species. The area was so remote that scientists felt certain they would find something new and exciting. The seven new species of frogs now bring the members of Brachycephalus group to a total of 28. Nearly all of them were identified within the past 15 years, because the area is so difficult to navigate. Pie told National Geographic, “Field work usually involved from two to eight hours of steep trails to get to the sites, and the same time afterwards to get back.”

As fabulous as living in a cloud forest on a sky island might sound, the frogs are considered in danger of extinction specifically because of their unique habitat. Cloud forests are at risk for climate change and other dangers, such as deforestation. The good news is that Pie and his team of researchers from the Universidade Federal do Paraná are working with Brazilian officials to create reserves in these areas of the rain forest in order to give these cuties a fighting chance. Best of luck to our little frog friends. We wish them the best.

[Images via here and here]

Advertisement