Science & Technology

Find mini frogs: these are not babies, they are just a few

Some descendants like Killdeer Shigichidori are replicas of their parents. The ever-feathered, highly protective adult bark that nests in a nearby rock garden at this time of the year has chicks that look exactly like their little version.

A freshly hatched child even has a black collar that stands out like his parents. The same can easily happen with amphibians. Therefore, some small frogs in Mexico were once thought to be babies of large frogs, but they are not.

research The emergence from Mexico proves more. These newly discovered mini frogs are monumental in design.

“We knew we didn’t fully understand the diversity there,” says Dr. Tom Jameson of the Faculty of Animal Science, University of Cambridge. researcher. “Probably more was happening. I wanted to try to unravel the mystery of what’s happening to these frogs in Mexico.”

Jameson and his team weren’t in the rainforest to do their job. They went to a modern lab. Old-fashioned fieldwork was done many years ago. That happened when Eric Smith collected samples in Mexico as a graduate student in the 1990s.His specimens are stored in Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center At the University of Texas at Arlington, along with 250,000 other specimens. Another researcher added it to Smith’s sample about 10 years later, and then one of Smith’s students recently added it to the collection.

Dr. Eric Smith, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Arlington and a curator of herpetology, said: “You collect things, and if you have the time and money, you start honing your research. It’s like building a puzzle. To study a group, you need a lot of samples from that group and it’s more complete. I won’t explain it until I get the big picture. “

It revealed a great surprise when the big picture was revealed this spring with publication-worthy results. A family of new frogs, including six new species.

They are called mini frogs and are unique in many ways.

Mexican coin Craugastor rubinus. © Jeffrey W. Stricher

Coin-sized frog

Research samples of mini frogs are skeletons after long-term storage and usually do not attract researchers, but in this case, that is exactly what they wanted. Skeleton. Examination of 500 samples included everything from microscopy to CT scans to ensure that Mexican mini frogs were not baby frogs.

They are their own frogs.

Of course, they grow to sexual maturity, But when they do, their body size does not grow.. They start small and remain small even after giving birth to their baby.

They are so mini that they can be staged in coins and if it suits them they can live in that currency for the rest of their lives. They will never exceed it. It is called pedophilosis and occurs when a particular population retains immature traits.

“They are probably the smallest frogs in Mexico and one of the smallest frogs in the world,” says Jameson. “Being so small means that they are doing all sorts of interesting things. When life is so small, strange things start to happen. They don’t fossilize, tadpoles There is none.

No tadpoles

Mini frogs hatch in the same way that birds hatch from eggs. When their prenatal shell breaks, they bounce out like a fully grown frog.

Mexican mini frogs do not have tadpole stages. They go from egg to leg without a swimming stage. This is called direct development and may be climate-related, but not climate change-related.

“Almost all of these little frogs take advantage of this niche in the ecosystem,” says Jameson. “They are defoliators. Being small, they can live under the defoliation. It’s moist and moist, but there is no tadpole river.”

Life in deciduous branches

Mini frogs feed many forest creatures and make them essential to the ecosystem. They need moisture to survive, but that doesn’t mean they need a river. They actually don’t have much access to water. (The lack of a pool is probably the reason for skipping the tadpole stage.)

Craugastor rubinus. © Jeffrey W. Stricher

Their moisture is on the ground of litter. Discovery gains momentum here. Scientists are wondering what else is in the litter that they don’t know yet. It encourages scrambling to continue the search in front of the cut, under the hood of deforestation faster than research solves the mystery.

“We weren’t the only ones to discover frogs last month,” says Jameson. “When we find them, we know they are so small that they are endangered. Someone might wipe the hillside for mines and farms, so we They may become extinct as soon as they are found. “

Mini frogs are micro-endemic. When endemic species occur in large areas such as states and countries, micro-endemic species occur in small areas such as one hillside or one valley. Mini frogs are site-specific and may be in one mountain, not in the next, but in one field and not in the other.

“If you don’t know it’s there in the first place, you can’t protect anything,” says Jameson. “We were thinking of one widespread species of common brown frogs, which is actually a whole new level of diversity. Unprotected frogs in the mountainous regions of Mexico are their own. You’re doing things and there’s no protected area near it. It’s changing the story of diversity and showing that we need to do more to protect them. “

Habitat in Jalisco, Mexico, where C. rubinus was discovered. © Jeffrey W. Stricher

Find mini frogs: these are not babies, they are just a few

https://blog.nature.org/science/2022/06/22/finding-mini-frogs-these-arent-babies-theyre-just-little/ Find mini frogs: these are not babies, they are just a few

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