Sep 28, 2014 I Paul Seaburn

New Poisonous Frog Has Dart Dippers Drooling

Sharpen your darts and blow out your blowguns. Researchers have discovered a new species of poison dart frog in Donoso, Panama.

As reported in the latest edition of Zootaxa, a team from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí in Panama, and the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia discovered the tiny bright orange poison dart frog on February 21, 2011, in the Rio Caño. After determining it was indeed a new species, the new poisonous frog was named Andinobates geminisae for Geminis Vargas. Why? Love and romance, of course. She is …

 … the beloved wife of [coauthor] Marcos Ponce, for her unconditional support of his studies of Panamanian herpetology."researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí in Panama, and the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia.

Darts and arrows dipped in poison extracted from the skin of poison dart frogs have been a staple in Amazonian rain forest adventure stories and movies. They’re based on both fact and fiction. Poisoned arrows are mentioned in the Greek stories of Heracles, Odysseus and the Trojan War and Norse mythology tells that Baldr was killed by a poison arrow. In reality, poison arrows and darts were used by the Gauls, ancient Romans, pre-Columbian peoples and some Native American tribes and blowguns are still used today by hunters in South America, Africa and Asia.

blowgun 570x327
Blowgun demonstration.

There are more than 100 species of poison dart frogs, with the deadliest being the golden poison arrow frog (Phyllobates terribilis) found in Colombia. While most poison dart frogs must be killed and cooked to extract their poison, an arrow tip just needs to touch the back of a live P. terriblis. One milligram of its poison is enough to kill up to 20 humans.

A. geminisae is not dangerous to humans and is found in only a small area of Panama. As such, it is threatened by habitat loss, the pet trade and amphibian killers like the chytrid fungal disease. The research team has put it in the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation project.

So leave the Andinobates geminisae alone. It will make them and Geminis Vargas happy.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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