A genus home to the smallest frogs and as a matter-of-fact, smallest vertebrates on earth

An astonishingly tiny frog native to Papua New Guinea has earned the nickname “child toads” or “child frogs” due to their minuscule size. Among them, Paedophryne amanuensis stands out as a contender for the title of the world’s smallest vertebrate, a group encompassing mammals, fish, birds, and amphibians. Measuring a mere 7mm or 0.27 inches in length, these diminutive frogs are a testament to the incredible diversity of life on our planet.

The small size of Paedophryne frogs makes them exceptionally challenging to spot in their natural habitat. They are often hidden amidst the leaf litter and undergrowth, their cryptic coloration further aiding their camouflage. However, despite their tiny stature, these frogs can be surprisingly vocal. They emit high-pitched calls reminiscent of chirping crickets, which reverberate through the forest understory. This auditory adaptation allows them to communicate and potentially locate mates in their dense and challenging environment.

These extraordinary creatures hold the distinction of being the sole vertebrates with a lifespan of less than one year. Their rapid life cycle and astonishing reproductive prowess allow them to produce multiple generations within a short span of time. They can lay up to 100 eggs in a single clutch, ensuring the perpetuation of their tiny but resilient species. This extraordinary reproductive strategy is a testament to their remarkable adaptation to the challenging environment of their leaf litter homes in Papua New Guinea.