Anonim

Yes, they belong to 6 different species, endemic to New Guinea: 5 of the genus Pitohui and one of the genus Ifrita. Similar to our sparrows, however, they have more gaudy colors; the weight varies from 60 to 100 grams for the pitohui and is around 30 grams on average for the ifrita.

On their feathers very dangerous alkaloids have been found: they are batrachotoxins, neurotoxic molecules (ie they act on the nervous system) so powerful that they are 250 times more effective than strychnine. These compounds, although already known, had never been found in birds.

Used for arrowheads by the tribes of Central and South America, herpetologists thought they came from the neotropical frogs of the genus Phyllobates (Phyllobates aurotaenia) and Dendrobates.

As for the birds, the researchers found the concentrations of higher alkaloids near the chest and legs; probably the same substances are also released on the eggs and in the nest, to discourage possible predators, such as snakes, rodents and birds of prey.

It seems that the alkaloids are derived from the diet: studies conducted on small cockroaches of the genus Choresine, which these birds feed on, have shown batracotoxins. Research on these insects has started since the natives call by the same name, "nanisani", both an ifrita (Ifrita kowaldi) and these insects

Not allowed to touch. The birds concentrate the powerful poison to defend themselves from predators on the feathers and on the skin. In humans it causes numbness and burns.