The Year in Science: Animals 1997

Antic Frogs

By Lybi MaJan 1, 1998 6:00 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

When the tiny poison frogs of the Amazon are born, they are harmless. Only mature frogs secrete a protective coating of deadly toxins—so deadly, in the case of one species, that a single inch-long amphibian has enough poison on its skin to kill a hundred people. How do the frogs produce such toxic stuff? This past year herpetologist Janalee Caldwell of the University of Oklahoma in Norman found the answer: they eat lots of ants. Caldwell examined the stomach contents of nine species of frog from Central and South America (Imagine looking into a stomach the size of a speck, she says) and found 135 species of ant, which contained 15 to 20 different toxic alkaloids. In fact, 70 percent of the diets of the most deadly frogs, such as Dendrobates auratus (left) consists of ants. Other, less toxic frogs, like the Ecuador poison frog above, eat less noxious insects

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2023 Kalmbach Media Co.