Belonging to the Dendrobatidae family, poison dart frogs are the diurnal species that are native to America. Know some facts about these bright, colorful & lethal frogs.
Who would think that a beautifully bright and colorful creature can mask a deadly and venomous side under its skin? But that’s how it is for ‘poison dart frogs’!
Poison dart frogs, also known as dart-poison or poison-arrow frogs or simply poison frogs, are the tiny frogs that belong to the Dendrobatidae family. Native to Central and South America, they are diurnal species with brightly hued bodies.
Read on here to know some really interesting facts about these attractive-looking lethal creatures of nature.
The hunters of native cultures like the Chocó people of Columbia are known to have used poison dart frog’s toxin for dipping their blow darts before hunting. And this bizarre ritual inspired the frogs’ common name.
The varied colors of the poison dart frogs are based on the individual habitats they belong to. From tropical rainforests of Brazil to Costa Rica Venezuela and others, the neon coloring of these frogs can be black, blue, copper, yellow, green, gold, or red.
The ostentatiously colorful designs and patterns are useful in warding off potential predators, which is a tactic called aposematic coloration.
Out of nearly 220 species of Poison Arrow Frogs, most of the species are not poisonous to animals and humans and it’s only some species that are deadly venomous.
Believe it or not, that’s actually true! According to Juan Santos of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the ancestors of poison dart frogs were not small, toxic, and colorful. Dating back to around 40-45 million years back, the poison dart frogs were from the forests of northern South America.
"During this time most of South America was warm and covered with tropical forest, and the Andes were not higher than 2500m above sea level."
This species of frogs have perhaps evolved from something like a true toad, complete with warts.
The poison dart frogs never develop poison if they are left into isolation from their native habitat or when they grow in captivity.
Some dart frogs can prove fatal to touch. Their skin stores natural poison that can paralyze or even kill a predator. Over 100 toxins have been identified in the skin secretions of some frogs. Its skin has 200 micrograms of this poison and just 2 micrograms of the poison can kill a human.
The poison dart frogs do not make the poisons on their own but they acquire it from their prey like the animals and insects they feed on. And strangely enough, they can withstand and retain the poison to use it for warning their potential predators.
Phyllobates terribilis or the golden poison frog is the most poisonous of poison dart species and perhaps one of the most toxic land animals. It has enough toxin that can kill ten to twenty men or about ten thousand mice on average.
Because of their poisonous nature, golden poison dart frogs have just one natural predator that is immune to this frog’s poison. And that creature is a species of snake named ‘Leimadophis epinephelus’.
While exploring the potential medicinal uses of the poison of poison dart frog, the medical research community has come up with a synthetic version of a compound that looks promising as a painkiller.
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