Skip to content

World’s Smallest Fanged Frogs Found In Indonesia, Use Tiny Fangs For Battle And Prey

Tiny fanged frogs discovered in Indonesia battle with each other and hunt tough prey
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The world’s smallest fanged frogs – the size of a coin – have been discovered in Indonesia. The tiny brown frogs were found to have two barely visible fangs jutting out of their lower jawbone.


The frogs use their two bony fangs to battle with each other over territory and mates, and sometimes even to hunt tough-shelled prey like giant centipedes and crabs.


“This new species is tiny compared to other fanged frogs on the island where it was found, about the size of a quarter,” said Dr. Jeff Frederick from the University of California, Berkeley.


“Many frogs in this genus are giant, weighing up to two pounds. At the large end, this new species weighs about the same as a dime,” he added.

The team, who published their discovery in PLOS ONE, found these frogs on Sulawesi, a rugged, mountainous island that makes up part of Indonesia.


“It’s a giant island with a vast network of mountains, volcanoes, lowland rainforest, and cloud forests up in the mountains. The presence of all these different habitats mean that the magnitude of biodiversity across many plants and animals we find there is unreal – rivaling places like the Amazon,” said Dr. Frederick.


The researchers also found another surprise when studying the frogs, they lay their eggs on leaves rather than in water like most other amphibians.

The males of these little brown frogs could be seen guarding the eggs by “hugging” the nests, which coats them in a protective layer. This helps to keep the eggs moist and free from bacterial and fungal contamination.


“Normally when we’re looking for frogs, we’re scanning the margins of stream banks or wading through streams to spot them directly in the water. After repeatedly monitoring the nests though, the team started to find attending frogs sitting on leaves hugging their little nests,” said Dr. Frederick.


“Male egg-guarding behavior isn’t totally unknown across all frogs, but it’s rather uncommon,” he added.


The scientific name given to this new species is Limnonectes phyllofolia, the second half of which translates to “leaf-nester.” The researchers predict that the reason these frogs have such tiny fangs might be because of these unusual breeding habits.


Since they lay their eggs on leaves or rocks rather than in the water, they have never had to fight for a spot along the river like their larger relatives.

Therefore, they may have lost the need for such big imposing fangs.


“It’s fascinating that on every subsequent expedition to Sulawesi, we’re still discovering new and diverse reproductive modes,” said Dr. Frederick.


“Our findings also underscore the importance of conserving these very special tropical habitats. Most of the animals that live in places like Sulawesi are quite unique, and habitat destruction is an ever-looming conservation issue for preserving the hyper-diversity of species we find there,” he added.


“Learning about animals like these frogs that are found nowhere else on Earth helps make the case for protecting these valuable ecosystems,” he continued.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners