A tiny LOST! shrub frog species found after 100 years!

by Madhava Meegaskumbura on March 9th, 2012

We have rediscovered a tiny frog species that was thought to have been lost, for nearly hundred years.
Pseudophilautus semiruber (Tiny-Red Shrub-Frog) is one of the smallest frog species in the world. So far, out of the total of 5000 plus species of frogs in the world, only 46 species   smaller than 15 mm are known; these are referred to as diminutive species. These species are so small that they can rest on the tip of your small finger, comfortably. With the new discovery, Sri Lanka has three such species (P. simba and P. tanu, in addition to P. semiruber).
N. Annandale in 1911, found a 12 mm long individual, with a nondescript sex, from Pattipola, at an elevation of 1850 m above sea level. It was formerly described in 1913, using only this single specimen. For the next 95 years nobody ever saw this species again. But in 2005, a single female was discovered by Madhava Meegaskumbura and Mohomed Bahir, from amongst the wet leaf litter, under the cover of a misty montane forest canopy, close to the Horton Plains National Park.
This specimen was subjected to rigorous scrutiny, both using morphology and molecular techniques to determine its systematic relationships. Its morphology was compared to Ps. simba, from Rakwana Hills (Morningside Estate) and the Knuckles Forest Reserve, and to the 1913 description of Annandale. The rediscovery was announced and a new description was presented in the March 2012 issue of the journal ZOOTAXA.
The specimen described by Annandale in 1913 had been deposited in the collection of the Zoological Survey of India in Kolkata under the reference number ZSIC 17401. However, this specimen was confirmed to be lost since 2001. Hence, the specimen collected in 2005 by us now remains the only reference material available for this species.
Now that we know that this species, tethering at the edge of extinction however, still survives, immediate conservation measures should be taken to save this little red frog species.
The following folks contributed to this work:. Madhava Meegaskumbura, Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi, Gayan Bowatte and Suyama Meegaskumbura.
Download the full paper: Meegaskumbura, M., Manamendra-Arachchi, K., Bowatte, G., Meegaskumbura, S. 2012. Rediscovery of Pseudophilautus semiruber, a diminutive (Rhacophoridae: Pseudophilautus) from Sri Lanka. ZOOTAXA, 3229: 58-68. from the  “Publications” link.