Cute But Poisonous Fluorescent Neon ‘Pumpkin’ Toad Discovered In Brazil

Daniel Richardson

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Cute But Poisonous Fluorescent Neon 'Pumpkin' Toad Discovered In BrazilNunes et al/PLOS

A new species of toad has been discovered in Brazil that is bright orange, cute and poisonous.

Tiny neon orange toads known as ‘pumpkin toads’ have been discovered in the Mantiqueira mountain range of Brazil. The toads are smaller than an inch but catch the eye because of their striking orange colour.

Despite their unique appearance, the toads were originally thought to belong to the existing B. ephippium species when they were discovered in 2016. It has now been confirmed that they are are a unique Brachycephalus species.

Nunes et al/PLOS

The author of the study published in Plos One, Ivan Nunes, professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at São Paulo State University, noted the significance of the discovery, saying, ‘The best moment as a scientist is when you are looking at something and you are the only person who knows at that moment.’ The new species of toad also has some unique traits beyond their orange appearance.

In the study, it was noted that the new species ‘can be distinguished from all species of the Bephippium species group based on morphological characters (especially osteology and head shape)’. There is ‘divergence in partial mitochondrial DNA gene sequences’ when compared to B. ephippium, and it also has dark faded spots on the skull. With this in mind, the toads are pretty unique.

The newly identified toads are poisonous, but their threat to humans is marginal. In fact, humans can touch the small animals, but they should be careful about the toad coming into contact with their mouth or eyes. The amphibians secrete a poison called tetrodotoxin, and this poison can take effect if it is ingested or touches an open wound.

Pumpkin toadNunes et al/PLOS

These toads also glow when they are exposed to ultraviolet light, although it is unclear what benefit this trait gives the animal and so will continue to be researched.

There are still plenty of mysterious qualities to be uncovered in these toads. Scientists have yet to determine the lifespan of these animals in the wild, or how many of them there are. At the moment, researchers believe that there may be a couple of hundred in the area that they were discovered.

Professor Nunes has said that they hope to do further research on the new species and determine the best conservation practices for them.

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Topics: Animals, Brazil, Nature, Now


CNN and 1 other
  1. CNN

    A new species of cute but poisonous 'pumpkin' toads discovered in Brazil

  2. Plos One

    Hidden by the name: A new fluorescent pumpkin toadlet from the Brachycephalus ephippium group (Anura: Brachycephalidae)

Daniel Richardson
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