A new frog with sharp fangs has been discovered

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AGI – Among frog species, dentition features are generally not particularly important, appearing as small spines along the upper jaw. However, a group of amphibians inhabiting the waterways of Southeast Asia is characterized by a peculiar adaptation: two bony “tusks” protruding from the lower jaw.

Used to compete for territory and mates, these teeth show extraordinary versatility, even allowing them to capture prey with thick shells such as giant centipedes and crabs. In a study recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers have documented this new species of frog, which turns out to be the smallest ever identified. The new species, called Limnonectes phyllofolia, is significantly smaller than its muddy counterparts on the island where it was identified, about the size of a 25-cent coin.

In collaboration with the Bogor Museum of Zoology, a team from the McGuire Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, identified these specimens on the mountainous and complex island of Sulawesi, part of the Indonesian archipelago. Characterized by mountains, volcanoes, rainforests and clouds, Sulawesi’s diverse ecosystem offers a unique environment that supports high biodiversity. The identification of the new species occurred during an expedition during which the team noticed nests of frog eggs located on young trees and moss-covered boulders.

new pointed frog discovered

Eggs of a new species of frog

Contrary to the practice of frogs, which lay their eggs in an aquatic environment to avoid dehydration, these specimens laid their eggs on leaves and boulders moving at a considerable height from the ground. Close guarding of eggs by male parents was found to be an unusual practice. This behavior allows the parents to coat the eggs with compounds that preserve their moisture and prevent bacterial and fungal contamination. Careful observation of the amphibians responsible for care revealed their belonging to the frog family, as well as the presence of barely noticeable fangs..

It should be noted that the male parents are responsible for guarding the eggs, which is rare in frogs. The researchers hypothesized that the special reproductive behavior of these frogs may be related to their smaller tusks compared to related species. Some related species have larger tusks, which are used to fend off competition in choosing spawning sites along rivers. Since these frogs have evolved a method of laying their eggs out of water, they seem to have lost the need for impressive tusks.

The identification and study of this new, unique species highlights the importance of conserving tropical habitats such as Sulawesi. Habitat destruction is a constant threat to the preservation of the extraordinary diversity of species found in these rare ecosystems.

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