The smallest species of fanged frog ever discovered

Written by April Ryder | published

When you think of frogs, fangs aren't usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, the lush volcanic hills of Sulawesi, Indonesia, are home to more than a handful of fanged frog species.

The frog species Limnonectes larviparous has been spotted there, and is the only frog species in the world that actually gives birth to live tadpoles rather than laying eggs first.

The magnificent and mysterious island of Sulawesi recently revealed one of its most interesting secrets to the world, in the form of the smallest fanged frog on the planet, Limonectes phyllofolia. Limonectes phyllofolia is a traditional amphibian egg layer, and for good reason.

Frogs usually lay their eggs in or near a water source to prevent the outer gelatinous layer from drying out while their young develop.

Tadpoles

This fanged frog, unlike most frogs, does not live in or even next to a natural water source. When scientists discovered Limonectes phyllofolia, they discovered it inside the island's rainforest.

Breeding is a dangerous game when you're near a water source, but frogs that lay their eggs indoors face a different kind of battle when it comes to keeping their eggs safe as they develop.

Unlike usual, the frog's lower jaw consists of small, prominent fangs.

A team of herpetologists from the United States and Indonesia said they identified a new fanged frog species after discovering clusters of black frog eggs laid on leaves and mossy rocks several feet off the ground. Finding frog eggs in such a strange place immediately caught the attention of scientists.

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Frogs usually lay their eggs in or near a water source to prevent the outer gelatinous layer from drying out while their young develop. Shortly after the discovery of the new fanged frog eggs, herpetologists and amphibians caught a glimpse of several small, brown frogs tasked with protecting the egg nests.

The most recently discovered species weighs only about a dime, or about two grams.

Not only do fanged guard frogs protect their nests from invading other creatures, they regularly coat their eggs with essential compounds that keep them moist and free of bacteria or fungi. What's more was that the egg guards were all male frogs.

When scientists had a chance to take a closer look at the newly discovered fanged frog species, they found that they had a set of small teeth in their upper jaw. Again, unlike usual, the frog's lower jaw consists of small, prominent canine teeth.

The Indonesian island of Sulawesi is home to other fanged frogs, but Limonectes phyllofolia (leaf nest) is tiny in comparison. Sometimes called saber-toothed frogs, the other fanged frogs on the island weigh about two pounds. The most recently discovered species weighs only about a dime, or about two grams.

The fanged frogs of Southeast Asia originally developed their fangs to be used as weapons in battle for territory, food, or mating. Frogs nesting near a major waterway have to fight for the best egg-laying spots and use their fangs to feed on various food sources such as crabs or centipedes.

Limonectes phyllofolia probably developed small fangs only because of its location. These fanged frogs do not necessarily have fangs large enough to chew a crab, as their food source consists mostly of small insects. There are also not very many species of frogs that lay their eggs among the leaves of the forest. With less competition, there is less reason to grow huge tusks.

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source: Plus


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