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Research: Deadly Frogs - Poison Dwarfs Help the Heart?


Indigenous people in Colombia soak their arrows with the poison of the tree frogs (dendrobatids) - more precisely, they use the three most poisonous species of around 170 species.

The most poisonous frog in the world
The most poisonous frog in the world belongs to these tree and leaf climbers and is called "Terrible poison dart frog" (Phyllobates terribilis). The frogs are colored yellow, yellow-green or orange, rarely gray. The skin of one of these frogs contains enough poison to kill 20,000 mice or 100 people.

Where does the scare frog live?
The most poisonous frog in the world lives only in a tiny area near the Rio Saija on the Colombian Pacific coast. The animals live on the bottom of the tropical rainforest near the river. He is in great danger today. The other poison dart frogs all live in forest regions in Central and South America.

Touch kills
A tiny amount of its Batratoxin poison is enough to kill a person when touched. It paralyzes muscles and breathing.

Arrow poison for hunting
The indigenous people pick up the phyllobates with leaves and strip off the secretions. Traditionally, they used it for hunting. Mayan medicine also knows the colorful poison dwarfs.

A giant among dwarves
The bright yellow “terrible poison dart frog” is a giant among the tiny things of the dendrobatids and phyllobatids. At least 5 centimeters, it towers over other species by up to twice.

Fever and cramps
The less dangerous types of tree and leaf climbers still cause stomach cramps and fever when touched.

Protection from predators
Science assumed that the strong poison serves to protect the little frogs from predators. They are teeming with tropical rainforests: snakes, lizards, monkeys, coatis, martens, various birds and even larger frogs such as toads love such lumps of protein.

Poison or hide
Life with poison enables the animals to survive. The otherwise defenseless frogs can only protect themselves or hide with poison.

Warning or camouflage colors?
The bodies of the tree and leaf climbers shine in red, blue, green or lemon yellow in irritating patterns and signal danger to attackers. But many species are less noticeable and the brightly colored are hardly visible between bromeliads and tree bark.

Against fungal attack?
Many predators are not deterred by the warning colors, and today many biologists assume that the poison should primarily kill bacteria and fungi that infect the sensitive frog skin.

How does the poison form?
In the past, researchers assumed that bacteria on the frog skin produce the poison. Today we know that the frogs synthesize the poison from their prey, which also includes poisonous animals: ants, termites, millipedes.

Terrarium animals
This also indicates that animals born in the terrarium are non-toxic. Here they eat vinegar flies or little crickets.

Medical benefits?
Animal poisons are extremely interesting for pharmacology: the deadly poison of a cone snail is the basis for pain relievers; ACE inhibitors were obtained from the poison of lance snakes.

Painkiller
Epibatidine, which is obtained from the poison of the Epipedobates Tricolor species, is 200 times more effective against pain than morphine. Unfortunately, it probably attacks the human body. Like nicotine, the frog poison docks at the binding sites of the messenger substance acetylcholine, but 120 times more strongly.

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's?
Epibatidine may indicate pathologically altered areas of the brain and could therefore be of great help in the treatment of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Medicines for heart diseases?
The two species Dendrobatus Auratus and Dendrobates Pumillo have a poison that affects the heart rhythm. It may possibly be used to develop remedies for heart diseases. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information


Video: The frogs clever self-defense makes the hunting snakes helpless (December 2021).