Just Touching This Frog Can Be Deadly
Conservationist Dr. Paul Salaman describes efforts to save the endangered golden poison frog, which releases enough venom to kill up to 13 adult humans. 
by Eric Niiler
For most of his career, conservationist Paul Salaman has been traipsing across South and Central America, looking for unusual animals that call tropical rain forests home. In recent years he has become obsessed by the rare golden poison frog, one of the world’s most toxic animals.
The amphibians — which measure about two inches long and are covered by a secretion of a poison known as a batrachotoxin — number fewer than 5,000, all living in a tropical forest along the Pacific coast of Colombia. The species is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.
The golden poison frog is both feared and coveted. Its scientific name, Phyllobates terribilis, includes “the terrible” because its toxins are so poisonous. For centuries, indigenous people used the poison for hunting. They collected the frogs and carefully rubbed their darts on the frog’s back where the toxin is secreted, using it to help bring down game. But doing so was treacherous to humans, too…
(read more: Washington Post)
photo: Rainforest Trust

Just Touching This Frog Can Be Deadly

Conservationist Dr. Paul Salaman describes efforts to save the endangered golden poison frog, which releases enough venom to kill up to 13 adult humans.

by Eric Niiler

For most of his career, conservationist Paul Salaman has been traipsing across South and Central America, looking for unusual animals that call tropical rain forests home. In recent years he has become obsessed by the rare golden poison frog, one of the world’s most toxic animals.

The amphibians — which measure about two inches long and are covered by a secretion of a poison known as a batrachotoxin — number fewer than 5,000, all living in a tropical forest along the Pacific coast of Colombia. The species is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.

The golden poison frog is both feared and coveted. Its scientific name, Phyllobates terribilis, includes “the terrible” because its toxins are so poisonous. For centuries, indigenous people used the poison for hunting. They collected the frogs and carefully rubbed their darts on the frog’s back where the toxin is secreted, using it to help bring down game. But doing so was treacherous to humans, too…

(read more: Washington Post)

photo: Rainforest Trust

dendroica
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Fringed Leaf Frog (Cruziohyla craspedopus) | ©Lucas M. Bustamante-Enríquez
It is a species of tree frog native to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Specimen shown was photographed in Yasuní National Park, Orellana, Ecuador.
This species was previously within the genus Agalychnis but was moved to the new genus Cruziohyla (Faivovich, et al., 2005,) in the same family Hylidae.

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Fringed Leaf Frog (Cruziohyla craspedopus) | ©Lucas M. Bustamante-Enríquez

It is a species of tree frog native to Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Specimen shown was photographed in Yasuní National Park, Orellana, Ecuador.

This species was previously within the genus Agalychnis but was moved to the new genus Cruziohyla (Faivovich, et al., 2005,) in the same family Hylidae.

Weird Purple Frog Seduces Females From Underground
 by Mary Bates
Meet the Indian purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis), also known as the pig-nosed frog. Only formally discovered in 2003, the colorful amphibian is an endangered species native to the mountains of India’s Western Ghats.
With a chubby, purple body and pointed, piglike snout, it’s unlike any other frog on Earth. Some of the purple frog’s unusual looks are adaptations for its burrowing lifestyle: The animal spends most of the year underground, using its short, stout limbs like spades to dig as far as 12 feet (3.7 m) below ground. (See pictures of more frogs found in western India, including the meowing night frog.)
When the frogs emerge for a brief period during the monsoon season to mate, the males call out to attract females—not exactly unusual among frogs…
(read more: National Geo)
photograph: SD Biju, University of Delhi

Weird Purple Frog Seduces Females From Underground

by Mary Bates

Meet the Indian purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis), also known as the pig-nosed frog. Only formally discovered in 2003, the colorful amphibian is an endangered species native to the mountains of India’s Western Ghats.

With a chubby, purple body and pointed, piglike snout, it’s unlike any other frog on Earth. Some of the purple frog’s unusual looks are adaptations for its burrowing lifestyle: The animal spends most of the year underground, using its short, stout limbs like spades to dig as far as 12 feet (3.7 m) below ground. (See pictures of more frogs found in western India, including the meowing night frog.)

When the frogs emerge for a brief period during the monsoon season to mate, the males call out to attract females—not exactly unusual among frogs…

(read more: National Geo)

photograph: SD Biju, University of Delhi

The Transvaal Short-headed Frog aka Blaasop or Rainfrog, Breviceps adspersus, is a common burrowing frog native to southern Africa. It has a round, globular body with a small head and short, robust limbs. When disturbed it inflates its body, assuming a balloon-like appearance, and excretes a sticky toxic substance from its skin. Because of the greater size or rather globular female, the male must glue himself to the female’s back during mating. The female then burrows into the ground with the male stuck to her… More about this species: Encyclopedia of LoifeImage by Jens Reissig and Sean Thomas via CapeSnakes

The Transvaal Short-headed Frog aka Blaasop or Rainfrog, Breviceps adspersus, is a common burrowing frog native to southern Africa. It has a round, globular body with a small head and short, robust limbs. When disturbed it inflates its body, assuming a balloon-like appearance, and excretes a sticky toxic substance from its skin. Because of the greater size or rather globular female, the male must glue himself to the female’s back during mating. The female then burrows into the ground with the male stuck to her…

More about this species: Encyclopedia of Loife

Image by Jens Reissig and Sean Thomas via CapeSnakes

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Three-striped Poison-Frog (Ameerega trivittata) | ©Lucas M. Bustamante-Enríquez
Tambopata, Madre de Dios, Perú.
Ameerega trivittata, formerly Epipedobates trivittatus, is a species of frog in the Dendrobatidae family, commonly known as the Three-striped poison frog. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela [1]; possibly Ecuador, and possibly French Guiana [2].
As with all of the dendrobatine poison dart frogs, the main toxin secreted by A. trivittata is pumiliotoxin. Wild A. trivittata also have the ability to convert their toxins into allopumiliotoxins. Direct contact with a wild three-striped poison dart frog can cause severe cramping, local paralysis, and seizures. The three-striped poison dart frog is believed to be the second-most toxic member of the Ameerega genus [3].
This species is commonly known in Spanish as Sapito Dardo Trilistado.

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Three-striped Poison-Frog (Ameerega trivittata) | ©Lucas M. Bustamante-Enríquez

Tambopata, Madre de Dios, Perú.

Ameerega trivittata, formerly Epipedobates trivittatus, is a species of frog in the Dendrobatidae family, commonly known as the Three-striped poison frog. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela [1]; possibly Ecuador, and possibly French Guiana [2].

As with all of the dendrobatine poison dart frogs, the main toxin secreted by A. trivittata is pumiliotoxin. Wild A. trivittata also have the ability to convert their toxins into allopumiliotoxins. Direct contact with a wild three-striped poison dart frog can cause severe cramping, local paralysis, and seizures. The three-striped poison dart frog is believed to be the second-most toxic member of the Ameerega genus [3].

This species is commonly known in Spanish as Sapito Dardo Trilistado.

CURRENT WORK IN HERPETOLOGY:

Odontobatrachidae • The First Endemic West African Vertebrate Family – A New anuran Family highlighting the uniqueness of the Upper Guinean Biodiversity Hotspot  [2014]

Higher-level systematics in amphibians is relatively stable. However, recent phylogenetic studies of African torrent-frogs have uncovered high divergence in these phenotypically and ecologically similar frogs, in particular between West African torrent-frogs versus Central (Petropedetes) and East African (Arthroleptides and Ericabatrachus) lineages.

Because of the considerable molecular divergence, and external morphology of the single West African torrent-frog species a new genus was erected (Odontobatrachus). In this study we aim to clarify the systematic position of West African torrent-frogs (Odontobatrachus). We determine the relationships of torrent-frogs using a multi-locus, nuclear and mitochondrial, dataset and include genera of all African and Asian ranoid families. Using micro-tomographic scanning we examine osteology and external morphological features of West African torrent-frogs to compare them with other ranoids…

(Read more: NovaTaxa - Species New to Science)

images: Mark-Oliver Rödel

Absurd Creature of the Week:  Emei mustache toad

This Toad Grows a Spiky Mustache and Stabs Rivals for the Ladies

by Matt Simon

This dapper little amphibian doesn’t just walk into the breeding season unarmed. For one chaotic month a year in China, males grow extremely sharp facial spikes, which they use to shank rivals for the choicest nesting sites.

Some 90 percent of all males end up injured. Victors win the right to mate. Losers shuffle away and seriously consider never growing a mustache again, because maybe it wasn’t a good idea in the first place and they were just curious how it would look, like that one time when I was in high school.

Their weapons are called, no joke, nuptial spines, and they’re made of keratin — the same stuff as your fingernails. The spines grow straight through the toad’s skin, and although they will at times pop off in combat, they’ll simply sprout once again, only to fall off at the end of the breeding season.

And if you think that mustache is handsome, wait until you hear about the toad’s other transformations. Its forearms will actually buff up considerably in the mating season, like a bro during a Jersey Shore summer. This, according to evolutionary biologist Cameron Hudson, likely aids both in combat and in amplexus: the amphibian sexy-time, in which strong forelimbs will help the male grasp the female…

(read more: Wired Science)

photographs by Cameron Hudson

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Variable or Emerald Glassfrog, Espadarana prosoblepon 
- Ecuador | ©Andreas Kay
Syn. Centrolene prosoblepon (Centrolenidae).
Common names: Emerald Glass Frog, Nicaragua Giant Glassfrog,
Despite its name, this glass frog is considered medium-sized, measuring 21-28 mm in males and 25-31 mm in females.
Distribution: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama.
The males are very territorial and will each occupy a space on the streamside at intervals of approximately 3.2 m, with spacing determined by calling (listen).
[Source]

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Variable or Emerald Glassfrog, Espadarana prosoblepon

- Ecuador | ©Andreas Kay

Syn. Centrolene prosoblepon (Centrolenidae).

Common names: Emerald Glass Frog, Nicaragua Giant Glassfrog,

Despite its name, this glass frog is considered medium-sized, measuring 21-28 mm in males and 25-31 mm in females.

Distribution: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama.

The males are very territorial and will each occupy a space on the streamside at intervals of approximately 3.2 m, with spacing determined by calling (listen).

[Source]