Cute But Deadly – Icelandic Death Frog

This little guy may only be one inch long and weighs only 3 grams but before his poison sac was removed he killed four entire families (129 people) in the mountains of Iceland.  From birth these little creatures have enough venom in one bite to kill four humans.  They have a small needle sharp injector under their tongue and death comes in under 30 seconds through complete paralysis of the nervous system (more details below).

There are only 20 recorded sightings of this ultra-rare animal and it is rumored the  monks in the period of AD 870-930 used these frogs to kill off 1,000’s of Norsemen.

They have a distinctive defensive display in which the body is lifted up into an erect position, the first pair of legs are lifted high , while the entire frog  sways from side to side with hind legs in a cocked position.

Its venom contains a potent neurotoxin, known as PhTx3, which acts as a broad-spectrum calcium channel blocker that inhibits glutamate release, calcium uptake and also glutamate uptake in neural synapses. At deadly concentrations, this neurotoxin causes loss of muscle control and breathing problems, resulting in paralysis and eventual asphyxiation, usually in under a minute.  In addition, the venom causes intense pain and inflammation following a bite due to an excitatory effect the venom has on the serotonin 5-HT4 receptors of sensory nerves. This sensory nerve stimulation causes a release of neuropeptides such as substance P which triggers inflammation and pain.

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