Thursday, June 23, 2005

Save the frogs!

Biodiversity is useful:

Before the arrival of Spanish colonizers some 500 years ago, Indians in what is now Ecuador dipped their arrowheads in venom extracted from the phantasmal poison frog to doom their victims to convulsive death, scientists believe.

More recently, epibatidine -- the chemical which paralyzed and killed the Indians' enemies -- has been isolated to produce a pain killer 200 times more powerful than morphine, but without that drug's addictive and toxic side effects.

Pharmaceutical companies have not yet brought epibatidine to market but hope to discover other chemicals with powerful properties in frogs, which are a traditional source of medicine and food for many of Ecuador's Indians.

They may want to hurry because the treasure trove of the world's frogs and toads is disappearing at a catastrophic rate.

1 comment:

Julian Elson said...

It's ironic that an example of the value of biodiversity starts with its applications at killing your fellow human more effectively. Perhaps it's a way to get the importance of biodiversity through to conservatives, though :^).