Seven new species of brightly colored, miniature frogs that each live on only one or a few mountaintops in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest were discovered by researchers after five years of exploration.
The species of frogs, all part of the genus Brachycephalus, have already raised concern about their potential for extinction because of their adaptation to very specific habitats they live in.
The frogs all measure about 1 cm in length, which has led to some structural changes in their body such as fewer fingers and toes. Many are brightly colored, potentially as a warning of tetrodotoxin, a potent neurotoxin in their skin.
“Although getting to many of the field sites is exhausting, there was always the feeling of anticipation and curiosity about what new species could look like,” said Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, in a press release.
Scientists have been aware of Brachycephalus since 1842, but most known species of the frogs have been discovered during the past decade. This is partially due to each species inhabiting remote mountaintop cloud forests and how difficult it is to get to them.
“This is only the beginning, especially given the fact that we have already found additional species that we are in the process of formally describing,” Luiz Ribeiro, a research associate at the Mater Natura Institute for Environmental Studies.
The researchers already are concerned about their potential for extinction because cloud forests are so susceptible to climatic changes and, because of where they live, the frogs would have a hard time migrating to another mountaintop.