Scientists Discover Venomous Frogs... The Hard Way

SAO PAULO - Brazilian scientist Carlos Jared discovered a frog capable of injecting venom twice as powerful as a snake's when it literally ran into his hand.

The first hand discovery was made when Jared, a researcher at Instituto Butanan in Sao Paolo, was collecting frogs in a forest in the Goytacazes National Reserve in southeastern Brazil. 

All of a sudden, an apparently agitated little frog head-butted Jared's hand. The researcher said he experienced "intense pain radiating up the arm, lasting about five hours." He and his team of scientists wrote about the incident in a paper published in Current Biology journal in June. 

The Bruno's cascade-headed frog: he's cute, but he's deadly

The Bruno's cascade-headed frog: he's cute, but he's deadly via Discovery News/Butantan Institute/Carlos Jared

The frog, called a Bruno's casque-headed frog, or Aparasphenodon brunoi in science, is not unique in its poisonous quality. Along with the Greening's frog, or the Corythomantis greeningi, the Bruno frog is the only known frog specimen capable of injecting a poison into another animal. 

Most frogs infect an enemy with poisonous skin secretions, not an outright injection. But these guys, have little spikes on their heads that they use as venom-injecting weapons.

The venom-injecting spikes on the Bruno frog's head

The venom-injecting spikes on the Bruno frog's head via Boletim Do Museu Nacional

Researchers calculated that the Bruno frog's venom is almost 25 times as powerful as the venom of a pit viper - one of Brazil's deadliest snakes. A gram of the Bruno frog's venom could kill more than 300,000 mice or 80 humans. 

Scientists doubt that the frog injects anything near a gram of venom into its enemies at a time - hence Jared being alive. Despite the pain of the discovery, researchers say they are quite keen on conducting further investigations into the frog's venom production and injection qualities - though hopefully not through any more first hand experiences. 

"We have been unwilling to test this by allowing a frog to jab us with its spines” the study's co-author Edmund Brodie, Jr., of Utah State University half-joked in a press release.