Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tiny Frogs, Beyonce Horse Flies, and Black-Capped Petrals

Photo courtesy of Christopher Austin, Louisiana State U.
The world's smallest frog, Paedophryne amouensis, was just discovered in Papua New Guinea, measuring 7.7 mm, about the size of a house fly. These tiny little guys live in the leaf litter of the rainforest floor, and, apparently, they are very difficult to capture, as you might imagine. You have to follow your ears to locate them by call, but here's the catch. The calls are so high pitched it's difficult for human ears to hear them.

This little guy beats the world's previous record by just 0.2 mm. The last record holder, Paedocypris progenetica, hails from Southeast Asia. Anyway, all of the tiny Paedophryne species discovered thus far are from Southern Papua New Guinea. The fist species was discovered back in 2010, but was just announced to the public a few days ago.

My first thought was, "What do these little things eat?"  The answer is supremely tiny things like mites, and probably some of the same stuff flies would eat. Yum! You can find more about them over at Nat. Geo.

Photo courtesy of CSIRO Australia
And speaking of flies, I'm betting Beyonce is beyond thrilled to hear a species of Horse Fly has been named in her honor. This species, first discovered in 1981, the year Beyonce was born, has gone nameless for years. That is until Bryan Lessard decided to show "the fun side of taxonomy." He describes the fly as having a gorgeous golden abdomen that he claims "makes it the all time diva of flies." Hence the name, Scapia beyonceae. 

This particular species was discovered in Queensland, Australia, where it is not simply a pest, but also an important pollinator of plants. Anyway, my congratulations to both the diva and the fly. More at Science Daily.

Photo by J. Volques of Grupo Jaragua
And down in the Caribbean, the world's first photos of an endangered Black-capped Petral chick have been recorded by J. Volquez, Grupo Jaragua of the Dominican Republic. I can't seem to stop myself from saying, "Isn't it cute?" This species was once thought extinct back in the late 1800s until reported sightings of the birds at sea began to come in. Finally, in 1963, the first nesting grounds were discovered in the Caribbean. For many years, ornithologists have tried to find out more about this rare and illusive species.

The discovery of new nesting grounds with viable chicks has rekindled excitement. Hopes were not high for the species' survival. Few discoveries about their life cycle have been made since the 60's. You can read more from the source, if you read Spanish, at Grupo Jaragua, or you can visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology for English.

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