Questions for ‘This frog is the world’s smallest known vertebrate’

A tiny brown frog sits just off center on a Brazilian real coin.

Can you spot the Brazilian flea toad? At just 7 millimeters long on average, this frog has been named the world’s smallest known amphibian and smallest known vertebrate. Here, one is dwarfed by a 27-millimeter (1-inch) wide $1 Brazilian real coin.

W.H. Bolaños, I.R. Dias and M. Solé/Zoologica Scripta 2024

To accompany ‘This frog is the world’s smallest known vertebrate


Before Reading:

  1. You’ll need a pen/pencil, a ruler, a blank piece of paper and a coin (any kind). Trace an outline of your coin on your paper. Measure the diameter and write down your measurement. Now imagine an object that is 7 millimeters (0.27 inch) in diameter sitting atop your coin. Would this object be larger or smaller than the coin? On your coin outline, draw a star approximately 7 millimeters (0.27 inch) across to represent this object.
  2. Imagine the object in Question 1 is an animal 7 millimeters (0.27 inch) long. Is an animal this size more likely to be a vertebrate (an animal with a backbone) or an invertebrate (an animal without a backbone)? Explain your answer.

During Reading:

  1. Read the first sentence of this story, then write down what you think this story will discuss. Why do you think the author opened the story with that line?
  2. List the flea toad’s two “titles.”
  3. How does the flea toad’s size compare to the previous record holder?
  4. In which country was the flea toad discovered?
  5. What is the scientific name for the previous record holder?
  6. Describe two anatomical differences between the frogs in this article and larger frogs.

After Reading:

  1. Why is the name “flea toad” misleading? How might the animal’s name be changed to more accurately describe this species?
  2. What are some physical features of this animal that might hint at how it got its name? Feel free to do a quick internet search.