New Frog Found in Tiny Water Pool in Plant

A newly discovered frog lives a fairytale existence, living in a mini nature-made swimming pool formed by the leaves of a tropical plant.

Like a page out of a storybook, researchers have just found a tiny frog living in a tiny nature-made pool formed by the leaves of a plant.

The new tree frog has been named Dendropsophus bromeliaceus, aka the Teresensis' bromeliad treefrog, which refers to locals at the municipality of Santa Teresa, Brazil, where the frog was found, and to the leafy bromeliad plants in which it lives.

"Bromeliads accumulate rainwater between leaves, which provides refuge, moisture and water," wrote lead researcher Rodrigo Ferreira and colleagues in a PLOS ONE paper describing the discovery.

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Ferreira, a researcher at both Utah State University and Brazil's Universidade Vila Velha, and his colleagues found the frog while surveying the plants along rocky outcrops at Santa Teresa. It is a mountainous region within the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.

They both heard and saw the little frog as one leapt out of its plant home.

The scientists now suspect that the new species spends its tadpole stage in the leaf-created water pool before heading out to explore other leafy territory. Such a lifestyle is unusual, as many other frogs of a similar type begin their lives in small ponds or puddles on the ground.

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The frog is not a quiet creature either, as it advertises its presence for others.

"The advertisement call is composed of a moderate-pitched two-note call," according to the researchers. "The territorial call contains more notes and pulses thatn the advertisement call."

Females appear to be larger than males. Ferreira and his colleagues also believe that it's the males of this species that do the parenting.

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The frog is light brown in color with distinctive cream markings, including a racing stripe-resembling mark that runs from about the eye to nearly the full length of the frog's back. Tadpoles exhibit different markings. They have a more cream colored upper body punctuated with dark brown dots.

"The discovery of this new species emphasizes the importance of this mountainous region for amphibian conservation," the authors wrote. "Even though Santa Teresa and its surrounding areas in southeastern Brazil are one of the most sampled regions in the Atlantic Forest, the region still harbors numerous remote areas that have not yet been sampled for frogs."

The new tree frog species, Dendropsophus bromeliaceus, next to a nature-made pool of water within a bromeliad plant in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.

After nearly 5 years of exploration in mountainous areas of the southern Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, a team of researchers has uncovered seven new species of very tiny, brightly colored frogs from the genus known as Brachycephalus. None are bigger than an adult thumbnail.

The tiny amphibians live in mountain top regions in the southern Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest that are extremely isolated. Since their habitat is so limited they are extremely vulnerable to extinction. Shown is the species

Brachycephalus auroguttatus

.

Frogs in this genus have been known since the 1800s, but these seven species hadn't previously been identified. These tiny frogs generally have three toes and two fingers, instead of the five toes and four fingers found in most frogs. All of the frogs are less than 0.4 inches in length. They vary mostly in their skin color and texture. Shown is the rough-skinned species

Brachycephalus verrucosus

.

Brachycephalus olivaceus

is the color of a greenish-brown olive. The first species of Brachycephalus was described in 1842 by the German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix. But most species in the genus have been discovered only in the past decade. That's due to their extremely remote habitats, which are difficult to reach. "Although getting to many of the field sites is exhausting, there was always the feeling of anticipation and curiosity about what new species could look like," said Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, who led the project.

Brachycephalus boticario

(shown) features bright orange skin with dark, bumpy sides.

The frogs were all found living among leaves on the forest floor. Their home -- cloud forests -- are highly sensitive to climatic changes.

Brachycephalus leopardus

features flashy yellow skin dotted with dark spots (like a leopard).

The tiny frog

Brachycephalus fuscolineatus

has yellow skin with a greenish-brown stripe running down its back. The researchers believe there may be even more species of the frogs in the remote regions. "This is only the beginning, especially given the fact that we have already found additional species that we are in the process of formally describing," said Luiz Ribeiro, a research associate to the Mater Natura Institute for Environmental Studies, in a press release.

The study

, titled "Seven new microendemic species of Brachycephalus (Anura: Brachycephalidae) from southern Brazil," was published today in PeerJ, a peer-reviewed open access journal.