In Brazil, a new record for the world’s smallest vertebrate has been set. The flea toad, also known as Brachycephalus pulex, was discovered in 2011 and is smaller than the previous record holder. The frog is only slightly over 7 millimeters long and has been seen perched on a Brazilian real coin with a diameter of 27 millimeters.
Despite its small size, only a limited number of flea toad specimens have been collected from its habitat on forested hilltops in southern Bahia, Brazil. To verify the species’ maturity and sex, the gonads of the frogs were examined. It was found that only males have vocal slits.
The study highlights how small the flea toads can get compared to other mini frogs, with the smallest specimen in the study being only 6.45 millimeters long. At such small scales, frogs tend to develop unusual anatomical quirks, such as losing toes or having underdeveloped ears.
Researchers also suggested that there may be even smaller vertebrates yet to be discovered, leading to the possibility of the next record-holder being another small frog or perhaps a parasitic male of a deep-sea anglerfish.