Tag: Christopher Austin

The World's Heaviest Insect Is 3,500 Times More Massive Than the Smallest Vertebrate

By Veronique Greenwood | February 1, 2012 9:36 am

Record-breaking critters are always crawling, hopping, swimming or otherwise locomoting across our radar. To indulge our curiosity about two creatures who showed up recently in the news, we did a little quick and dirty Photoshopping. If you put the world’s heaviest insect—the giant weta, one of which was recently observed enjoying a carrot on a researcher’s palm—next to the world’s smallest vertebrate—a newly discovered frog so tiny it’s dwarfed by a dime—it might look something like this:

spacing is important

That’s the frog, off to the right. It weighs just 0.02 grams. This weta tipped the scales at 71 grams, according to Mark Moffett, the scientist who snapped her picture. So the cricket-like weta is about 3,500 times the weight of the frog, which Christopher Austin and colleagues found by scooping up leaf litter that was making a funny chirping noise and painstakingly removing the leaf fragments until they found a scrap that hopped.

Wetas can reach 10 centimeters in body length, 20 with their legs extended. The frog is about 7 millimeters long, so it would take around 30 of the frogs lined up head to tail to extend the length of the weta. For your viewing pleasure, here’s the frog on a dime, magnified:


Images (c) Mark Moffett / Minden and courtesy of PLoS One


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