Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Colorful Poison.

The poison dart frogs are one of the most venomous creatures on earth as well as being the most beautiful and eye alluring. They are members of the Dendrobatidae family and range from Costa Rica to Brazil. The bright colors and patterns warn off predators and these frogs also have unusual parenting behaviors such as carrying eggs on their back or in their mouth as well as males of some species being devoted to a clutch of eggs for protection and transportation.

The Indigenous Emberá people of Colombia, use the poison from the Golden poison dart frog and tipped their blowgun darts. What is so fascinating is the fact that one little frog has enough poison can kill 10 grown men. The Embera people sure knew how to utilize this frog to defeat enemies and take down kills. It is mind boggling on how this discover could have occurred, did someone eat the frog or were they experimenting because they already knew from watching natural predators the frogs were poisonous?

Leimadophis epinephelus, is the only snake known that is a predator to these frogs because the venom does not affect them. It possibly has some sort of mutation allowing it to 'dodge' any adverse side effects the poison would cause another predator. Other poison dart frog venom is being synthesized as a painkiller which is mind boggling but does make sense for poisons that might simply numb pain receptors and cause no real damage to humans.

Sunni-Lynn Farias (1)


  1. When taking or using the venom from the frogs, does it have any negative effects on them? Do the frogs need to be killed in order to extract the venom?

    Kimberly Ty (3)

  2. wow completely mind boggling that we are using the venom from the poison dart frogs to kill pain. Do you know how the pain relieving agent is given is it taken orally or is it topically applied? It is very interesting that we have been able to do this, what do they have to do to the venom so that it is not lethal any more?
    Tonya Sulham ( 3)

  3. I wonder what the mechanism of defense is in the snake which allows it to dodge the side effects. I was recently in Costa Rica and saw hundreds of these frogs, they are beautiful and bright. Our tour guide said we could hold them as long as we don't have any cuts. I've heard stories that to extract venom, they roast frogs over a fire to agitate them and then they let them go, but often the frogs are damaged to the point where they can't survive due to burns. Also, Professor Alan Richmond told us that some tribes in Central and South America used to put these frogs over the fire and then lick them to get hallucinogenic effects. I thought that was really interesting! This post was really informational and definitely caught my eye!

    Lindsey Dugas (1)

  4. It is not surprising that people want to harness the poison dart frog's venom to use for alternative medicine. This seems to be a new up and coming way to create different kinds of medicine found in nature rather than built inside a laboratory. Many scientist find that the numerous proteins found in the venom of many species have various enzymatic abilities that help in particular diseases. For instance rattlesnake venom has been used as a clotting reagent for hemophiliac patients and other venomous snakes have been used for cancer treatments.

    Celina (1)

  5. I always thought the poison would just be used to kill humans and animals. I never even came close to thinking that it would be used as a pain killer! That's pretty interesting to think about.

    Cynthia Bui (1)

  6. I think the way animals evolve increasingly potent poisons is so interesting. For every poisonous animal there is a predator with resistance that is driving the evolution of the poisonous animal towards increasingly potent venom. In the poison dart frog's case, this predator must be Leimadophis epinephelus?

    Joseph Starrett (3)

  7. I think its so fascinating how some animals have resistance to some of the most dangerous species. This definitely shows natural selection at work and how far animals have evolved.

    Gabrielle Wertheim (3)

  8. This is an interesting article! Knowing that one of the most venomous creatures on earth shows such a great parental behavior. I'm wondering how their poisons kill the humans. Is it their skin that is poisonous, their saliva, or some other parts? And does this poison affect out nervous system or other region of our body?

    Setareh Sepasi (3)

  9. That's really cool. Are there any organisms in their habitat that use Batesian mimicry to benefit off of the warning coloring of the dart frogs? How does the venom work as a poison and as a pain killer? Do scientists just use lower doses of the toxin?

    Kaitlin Jones (3)

    1. There must be some sort of digestive enzyme that allows the snake to consume the dart frog without being affected by the toxin. Wouldn't it be interesting if that enzyme were discovered? Really neat. An evolutionary arms race at it's finest.