Delfini, uccelli, mammiferi: sono 381 le nuove specie animali e vegetali scoperte in Amazzonia tra 2014 e 2015. La gallery
Honey, I shrunk the frogs. 7 new miniscule species discovered in Brazil
Nella foresta pluviale atlantica brasiliana i ricercatori hanno classificato sette nuovi anfibi, minuscoli ed endemici.
Despite their garish colours, finding them is anything but simple. In fact, the 7 new species of frog that have been discovered in the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil are some of the world’s smallest vertebrates. These amphibians are tinier than bees and belong to the genus of Brachycephalus, a family of frog known for its tiny dimensions and gaudy colours.
Adults are usually less than 1 centimetre long, and their bright colours represent a warning for predators: they indicate the presence of a powerful neurotoxin in frogs’ skin, the tetrodotoxin.
These miniscule amphibians evolved with fewer fingers and toes in order to reduce their size. Thanks to this process of miniaturisation, frogs, when emerge from their eggs, are fully formed. They thus don’t have to go through different metamorphosis stages and are able to survive in absence of water.
Another peculiarity is their extreme endemism. In fact, many species live just in few mountaintops of the Brazilian forest. Despite the proximity among different populations, many species evolved separately, divided by wide valleys impossible to be crossed by such tiny animals.
The wild and almost inaccessible mountaintops become micro-habitats, home to amphibians that developed only in that area. These frogs have been discovered by Marcio Pie, herpetologist of the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil, and by his team, after 5 years of research in rainforests near the south-Brazilian Atlantic coast, in the states of Paranà and Santa Catarina.
The research, published by the magazine PeerJ, highlights how such extreme endemism makes frog vulnerable to changes in their habitat. The main threats are illegal logging and climate change, which could alter rainforests’ delicate balance.
Brazilian herpetologists’ findings represent good news in a disquieting context, amphibian populations are in fact rapidly declining globally, being sadly the living creatures to be driven to extinction at the fastest rate.
Amphibians “breath” through their skin, they are thus extremely vulnerable to pollution. Moreover, in many species the presence of a parasite fungus of the group Chytridiomycota is causing the death of entire amphibian populations worldwide.
Some of the most significant news stories of the year. From the Paris Agreement to the Colombian peace deal, here’s our 2016 in review: the last 12 months seen through the lens of sustainability.
Il Perù ha istituito un nuovo grande parco nazionale per tutelare le tribù indigene e la fauna in via di estinzione.
Biodiversity Beyond Borders is LifeGate’s and the Biodiversity Park’s initiative at Expo Milano 2015 to preserve biological diversity by protecting the Amazon rainforest.
BP agreed to pay the largest fine in US history as compensation for the worst environmental damage ever: the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Il Paese africano ha bruciato oltre una tonnellata di zanne e corni confiscati per esprimere la tolleranza zero per il bracconaggio.
The world’s richest man, Bill Gates, gives his advice on how to make money over the next years: invest in renewables. And he’s doing just that.
Il presidente colombiano ha annunciato l’intenzione di creare la più grande area protetta del mondo che si estenderà dall’Oceano Atlantico alle Ande.
Tapirs have prehensile noses, are essential for forests’ health and are an umbrella species. Here are some curious facts about this ancient animal.