Microhyla borneensis Matang Narrow-mouthed Frog
Also known as:
Bornean Chorus Frog, Borneo Rice Frog
In 2010 a new species of frog was described from Gunung Serapi (Mt. Serapi) in the Matang mountain range in western Sarawak. This species was named Microhyla nepenthicola after the the pitcher plants in which its tadpoles were found to live, particularly Nepenthes ampullaria. Tadpoles living in pitcher plants, which generally consume organic material, are quite remarkable. Plus this new frog was extra-tiny, considered the smallest in the Old World at the time. What a discovery!

Erstwhile, back in 1928, a then-new species of frog called Microhyla borneensis was described using a type specimen (first specimen, the one which is bound to the newly-described species) also from Gunung Serapi. The tadpoles were thought to live in ponds like normal tadpoles, and the known range of this frog grew over time to include parts of the Malay Peninsula as well as parts of Borneo.

In 2011 another herpetologist doing research on Microhyla frogs in Sarawak realized that the currently understood definition of M. borneensis included frogs of more than one species. In fact, the type specimen itself was the same species as the one described in 2010 as M. nepenthicola, though all of the so-called Microhyla borneensis from the Malay Peninsula and other parts of Borneo were a different, non-pitcher-plant-involved species. So confusing! According to the official international species-naming rules, this meant that Microhyla nepenthicola was an invalid name (or "junior synonym" if you prefer), and now we have to call these Nepenthes-breeding frogs by the considerably less precise name Microhyla borneensis. Meanwhile, the rest of the frogs formerly known as Microhyla borneensis got reclassified as Microhyla malang. Are you following all this?

Kubah National Park, Sarawak, MalaysiaJanuary 26, 2017
Matang Narrow-mouthed Frog (Microhyla borneensis)
When I visited Kubah National Park, I had all of that taxonomic jumble more or less in my head. One part I clearly understood is that I really wanted to see these little frogs since I would be right where they were discovered in 1928 and then again in 2010. I scouted out a couple of appropriate patches of Nepenthes ampullaria by day. Then I returned by night to look for little bitty frogs, and was lucky enough to find this breeding pair.

My Travelogues and Trip Lists page includes a complete list of the herps I saw in the wild on this trip to Malaysia, as well as a travelogue of the trip.

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