Scientists find tiny, poisonous new mystery frog

Mysterious new species of poison dart frog can fit on a fingernail and could be under threat

Andrew Griffin
Sunday 28 September 2014 17:37
Comments
Andinobates geminisae is so small that it can fit on a fingernail
Andinobates geminisae is so small that it can fit on a fingernail

Scientists have discovered a new species of poison dart frog, small enough to fit on a fingernail but still bearing the toxic poison that gives the frogs their name.

Poison dart frogs — many of which are threatened species — live in Central and South America and secrete poisons that are used by hunters to make blowdarts. They are often brightly coloured, with varied colour patterns that scare off predators.

The new animal, found in Panama, is only 12.7 millimetres long. The frog’s smooth skin and its unique call mark it out as different from any of the other frogs in the region, and researchers are unsure how it came to look like it did.

Other frog’s poisons have been harnessed by hunters for weapons, but it is unlikely that the new discovery’s poison has ever been used in that way, Andrew Crawford, one of the authors of the study, told National Geographic. The new frog’s poison has yet to be analysed.

It has been called andinobates geminisae, and a specimen was first collected in 2011. Scientists have been working since then to understand whether the animal was a new species, and to sequence its DNA.

Though researchers have seen the frog before, it was unclear whether it was just another variety of a similar species. Little is known about the species, but it appears to care for its young.

Because the animal can only be found in such a small area and so its existence could easily be threatened, scientists have laid out plans for how to protect the frog. That will involve including the frog in a captive breeding programme that helps protect amphibians from diseases and habitat loss.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in