It was a known fact that skins of certain frogs have glands that secrete poison. However, this is the first time in history that scientists have come to know about a couple of frog species that are venomous. These Brazilian frogs not only produce powerful toxins but also possess a unique mechanism of delivering those venomous secretions into other animals by means of the bony spines on their head.
Utah State University’s Edmund Brodie said that neither him nor any of his co-researchers expected to discover a frog that is actually venomous, so identifying two frog species whose skin secretions are more venomous that the toxic secretions of the lethal pit vipers is something absolutely astounding for them.
The two frog species found to have venomous secretions are Aparasphenodon brunoi and Corythomantis greeningi. They were known to the scientists for several decades. However, scientists knew very little about their biology. Both these frogs don’t have any known predator; this fact truly makes some sense when the latest findings are taken into consideration.
Brodie along with Carlos Jared of Sao Paulo’s Instituto Butantan studied predator-prey systems of frogs and other amphibians all through their careers.
Jared was the first to realize that C. greeningi might have a venomous secretion. Unfortunately, he had to pay a price for that. His hand got injured by a frog’s spine, which was followed by five hours of intense, radiating pain. Jared, when describing the action of the frogs, said that it would be much more effective on any attacking predator’s mouth lining.
Jared was lucky too’; C. greeningi, according to the researchers, is much less toxic than A. brunoi.
According to calculations of the researchers, each gram of the venomous secretion of A. brunoi is enough to kill around 80 humans and 300,000 mice. However, Brodie said that it’s unlikely that a single frog of this species will be able to produce that much toxin. Also, a very small portion of the toxin produced would be transferred to the victim’s wound through the frog’s spines.
The researchers are saying that this discovery is extremely important for understanding amphibians’ biology and how they deal with predators.