Species: Phyllobates terribilis The golden poison dart frog is considered one of the most toxic animals on Earth. A single specimen measuring two inches (five centimeters) can have enough alkaloid toxin to kill ten grown men. Indigenous Emberá people of Colombia have used its powerful poison for centuries to tip their blowgun darts when hunting, hence the species' name.
These brightly colored amphibians are among the largest of the more than 100 poison dart frog species, averaging more than one inch (two and a half centimeters) in length. They live within a tiny plot of rain forest on the Pacific coast of Colombia. And though the population in its small range is abundant, widespread decimation of the rain forest has landed this species on international endangered lists.
Their coloring, which can be yellow, orange, or pale green, depending on their particular range, is deliberately ostentatious to ward off potential predators, a tactic called aposematic coloration. Their diet includes flies, crickets, ants, termites, and beetles.
Scientists are unsure of the source of this frog's amazing toxicity, but it is possible they assimilate plant poisons, which are carried by their prey.(the crucial insect may be a small beetle from the family Melyridae) Poison dart frogs raised in captivity and isolated from insects in their native habitat never develop poison.
The medical research community has been exploring possible medicinal uses for the golden poison dart frog's poison. They have already developed a synthetic version of one of the poison compounds that has promise as a powerful painkiller.
Type locality: "lowland rain forest at Quebrada Guanguí, about 0.5 km above its junction with Río Patia, 100-200 m elevation, in upper Río Saija drainage, Department of Cauca, Colombia".
Holotype: AMNH 88876.
- Myers, Daly, and Malkin, 1978, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 161: 313.
- Frost, D.R. 2021. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.1. Electronic Database accessible at https://amphibiansoftheworld.amnh.org/index.php. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. DOI: 10.5531/db.vz.0001 Phyllobates terribilis . Accessed on 24 May 2008.
- 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species IUCN: Phyllobates terribilis (Endangered) Downloaded on 24 May 2008.