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Dart Frogs eating Toxic beetles
#1
Found this article in an online database (elibraryscience), thought you guys might find it interesting Smile

Eat a toxic beetle to become a poison frog; Anonymous
New Scientist 11-06-2004

Eat a toxic beetle to become a poison frog

Byline: Anonymous
Volume: 184
Number: 2472
ISSN: 02624079
Publication Date: 11-06-2004
Page: 20
Section: In brief
Type: Periodical
Language: English

POISON dart frogs and some tropical bird species become poisonous by eating beetles that are laced with toxins, new research suggests.

Some frog species, such as those belonging to the South American genus Phyllobates, are notoriously toxic. Their skins produce poisons called batrachotoxins that cause powerful burning and numbing sensations and are deadlierthan the well-known poisons curare and strychnine. In 1990, Jack Dumbacher of the Smithsonian's Conservation and Research Center in Port Royal, Virginia, discovered that the skin and feathers of colourful pitohui songbirds in Papua New Guinea are also laced with batrachotoxins.

But the origin of the toxins has remained an enigma, as neither the frogs nor the birds make them. Now an analysis by Dumbacher and his collaborator AvitWako from the Papua New Guinean village of Herowana suggests melyrid beetles are the source. Beetle specimens collected and preserved in ethanol all contained batrachotoxins, leading the researchers to suggest that theyare eaten by the birds. They also speculate that poison dart frogs in South America accumulate the toxins in a similar way by eating a related species of beetle (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 101, p 15857).

They plan to test their theory by feeding toxic beetles to captive Pitohui songbirds and comparing their feathers with those of birds fed an alternative diet.

Copyright Reed Business Information UK Nov 6-Nov 12, 2004
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