Seven itty-bitty, brightly colored frog species have been found among the leaf litter in cloud forests and nearby mountains in southern Brazil. More species could be hiding on other “sky islands,” researchers report June 4 in PeerJ.
Like other members of the genus Brachycephalus, the frogs are small enough to sit on a dime and covered in colorful warnings that their skin can be tainted with neurotoxins. Because the 21 previously known species in this genus are separated by valleys and other habitats not cool or humid enough for the frogs, Luiz Ribeiro of Faculdade Dom Bosco in Curitiba, Brazil, and colleagues had a hunch more could be found in other parts of the mountainous region.
A five-year search turned up seven species, ranging in color from a dull dark green to spotted yellow with a light blue stripe. The frogs’ forests are threatened, because even when protected, they are often cleared to make room for pine farms or cattle ranches, the scientists say.