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Adorable (but poisonous) toadlet discovered in Brazil

Wednesday, May 5th 2021, 3:39 pm - There are a lot of things left to discover on Earth.

A new species of adorable (but deadly) toadlet has been discovered in Brazil's Mantiqueira mountain range, measuring just over 2 cm in length.

It's part of the pumpkin toad genus, which is identified by small stature and bright colours. The toadlet was first found in 2016 and thought to be part of an existing species. But a recently-published study found there are actually multiple species of pumpkin toadlets, and they all look alike.

The newly-discovered specimen possesses interesting characteristics. For starters, it's fluorescent and glows when illuminated by UV light, but scientists aren't sure why.

Second, it's poisonous, although study author Ivan Nunes, professor in the department of biological and environmental sciences at São Paulo State University in Brazil, told CNN their threat to humans is minimal.

The toadlets secrete tetrodotoxin, the same poison found in pufferfish. Nunes says humans can touch them with bare hands but should avoid touching their eyes or mouth afterward. Humans could also get poisoned by ingesting a toadlet or if an open wound makes contact with them.

It's not clear, though, how often people would have the opportunity to handle the small amphibians, because scientists aren't sure how many exist in the wild.

The study's authors say more research is needed to better understand the toadlet's physiology and their conservation status.

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