Two species of frogs that produce venom that is as deadly as the venom produced by pit vipers and have a specialized head structure that delivers the venom to prey victims have been found in Brazil. Edmund Brodie, Jr. of Utah State University and Carlos Jared of Instituto Butantan in São Paulo are the first to find truly venomous frogs.
The two species of frogs, Corythomantis greeningi and Aparasphenodon brunoi, have been known physically for centuries but no evidence of venom had been seen before. Jared discovered the venomous nature of Corythomantis greeningi accidentally while attempting to capture a specimen of the frog. The pain and swelling caused by the frog’s spines lasted for about five hours. Corythomantis greeningi is the less venomous of the two frogs. One gram of the venom of Aparasphenodon brunoi contains enough toxins to kill 80 people.
The scientists do not know exactly how the frogs produce the venom. The venom is delivered by small sort spines on the frog’s head. The development is obviously an adaptation for capturing food and may have arisen as a method of protection from predators.
The frogs are different from other poisonous species of frogs that inhabit South America. The poisonous frogs secrete a toxin on their skin that has been used by people to make poison weapons. The new species of frogs are the first ever found that generate their own venom. The researchers expect to find other venomous frogs of the same type in other parts of the world.