A rare species of tiny, lethal frog normally found in South America has been bred at a British aquarium.
The phantasmal poison frogs, which measure less than a centimetre in length and whose poison is 200 times more powerful than morphine, have been bred at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth. It is hoped that the frog, one of the most toxic amphibians on the planet, which exists in the wild in Ecuador, could help save lives.
Jenna MacFarlane, of the aquarium, said: "Despite their deadly status, scientists have discovered that an extract from the skin of the phantasmal poison frog, Epipedrobates tricolor, can block pain 200 times more effectively than morphine, without addiction and other serious side-effects and we are delighted to have been able to breed them successfully here in Portsmouth.
"It's imperative we are able to mimic exactly their wild environment in order for the species to thrive in captivity and it's a real achievement they are breeding so successfully.
The World Conservation Union considers the frog to be endangered. It is thought to survive at only seven sites on the western slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes.
MacFarlane said: "These beautiful frogs are under increasing threat in the wild due to loss of habitat and pollution. They've passed the critical stage of development and they now look like perfect miniature replicas of their parents."
Ben Mitchell, The Guardian
Wednesday 28 April 2010 17.34 BST
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