Mini Frogs and other PLOS Research Making Headlines in March and April!
Five tiny new frog species found in Madagascar–meet the Mini frogs
Three of these five new species, all of which range from 7.7-15 mm in length, belong to an entirely new genus: Mini. These Madagascan frogs’ miniscule scale enriches the picture of convergent evolution towards tininess in frog species (in addition to being extremely cute).
Lead author Mark Scherz says: ‘When frogs evolve small body size, they start to look remarkably similar, so it is easy to underestimate how diverse they really are. Our new genus name, , says it all: adults of the two smallest species Mini mum and Mini scule, are 8–11 mm, and even the largest member of the genus, Mini ature, at 15 mm, could sit on your thumbnail with room to spare.’
(Don’t!) Feel the Burn–SPF moisturizer tends to be applied less effectively than traditional sunscreen
A new PLOS ONE study showed that users applying an SPF30 moisturizer applied it less effectively compared to traditional SPF30 sunscreen users, and missed significant areas around the eyelid. Even more concerningly, a post-study questionnaire revealed that participants were unaware of their incomplete coverage. As we move into summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, don’t forget your eyes need sun protection (and sunglasses are always an option, too!)
Co-author Austin McCormick adds: “Moisturiser is not as well applied as sunscreen; therefore, if planning prolonged sun exposure we advise sunscreen be used. If using moisturiser we advise one with SPF: any SPF is better than none, but it should not be considered the equal of sunscreen.”
Climate Change May Contribute to Hay Fever Increase
If you suffer from hay fever, climate change might be contributing to your allergies. A recent study in PLOS ONE showed that areas in the USA where the onset of spring was earlier than normal–or significantly later than normal–corresponded to an increased prevalence in hay fever sufferers. Lead author Amir Sapkota and colleagues used NASA satellite data along with CDC National Health Interview data to compile this first quantitative dataset pointing to a link between spring timing and allergies. The authors speculate that early spring means a longer season for tree pollen, whereas a late spring may mean a high pollen concentration across many different species–in either case, bad news for allergy sufferers.
Sapkota adds: “We need to better prepare, and increase community resilience to minimize the disease burden associated with climate change.”
- Scherz MD, Hutter CR, Rakotoarison A, Riemann JC, Rödel M-O, Ndriantsoa SH, et al. (2019) Morphological and ecological convergence at the lower size limit for vertebrates highlighted by five new miniaturised microhylid frog species from three different Madagascan genera. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0213314. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213314
- Lourenco EAJ, Shaw L, Pratt H, Duffy GL, Czanner G, Zheng Y, et al. (2019) Application of SPF moisturisers is inferior to sunscreens in coverage of facial and eyelid regions. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0212548. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212548
- Sapkota A, Murtugudde R, Curriero FC, Upperman CR, Ziska L, Jiang C (2019) Associations between alteration in plant phenology and hay fever prevalence among US adults: Implication for changing climate. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0212010. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212010
Image captions and credit
- An adult male Mini mum, one of the world’s smallest frogs, rests on a fingernail with room to spare. Credit: Dr Andolalao Rakotoarison. CC-BY.
- B&W photo; UV photo non sunscreen showing deep dermal pigmentation, a sign of uv damage; UV photo after sunscreen application; UV photo after moisturiser with SPF application (dark areas on images taken with a UV-sensitive camera show SPF protection/coverage). Credit: Austin McCormick et al, 2019. CC-BY.
- Sacramento River Bend Outstanding Natural Area. Credit: Eric Coulter, BLM. Public Domain.