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Unlucky Scientist Discovers Venomous Frog The Hard Way

Posted 8/06/2015 7:21 pm by
One of the world's first venomous frogs.  Not pictured: deadly venom.

One of the world’s first venomous frogs. Not pictured: deadly venom.

If seems that frogs, toads, and other amphibians can exist pretty much everywhere on earth, save the polar regions.  Frogs are basically everywhere, and yet it seems like unusual new frogs are being discovered everywhere as people continue to explore the earth’s hidden places.  Two new frogs were discovered in Brazil, and these frogs are a little bit different.  The first two venomous frogs known to science were discovered in Brazil’s savannas.

The two species of frogs, Corythomantis greeningi and Aparasphenodon brunoi, are uniquely deadly.  Frogs and other amphibians are known to secrete some sort of poison or toxin that makes them difficult to digest, but frogs typically don’t have venom, and they’re definitely not as dangerous as these two.  A gram of venom from the Corythomantis greeningi could kill about six humans.  The more dangerous Aparasphenodon brunoi has venom that could kill eighty humans per gram.  That’s spectacularly deadly.

One scientist found that out the hard way.  Herpetologist Edmund Brodie, Jr. was stung by one of the frogs and suffered intense, radiating pain in his arm for five hours after the initial exposure.  Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured and was able to give a first-hand report of the effects of this new venom.

“The strength of toxicity of the skin secretions is remarkable, and to say we were surprised by that is an understatement,” Brodie said.  “Amphibians have a wide array of skin toxins that have been well-studied, but this sort of mechanism — transmitting the toxin as a venom — has not been found before. It moves the study of amphibian defenses to a new level.”

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