New species of poisonous, glowing ‘pumpkin’ toadlet discovered

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Behold: a new variety of nature’s own pumpkin-spice species.

Scientists have discovered a new flavor of pumpkin toadlet, so named for its fluorescent orange hue. 

The freshly recognized species is different from its fellow tiny orange brethren in head shape and bone structure, researchers wrote in a study on the hopper’s existence, published Wednesday in the journal Plos One.

“It can be distinguished from all species of the [Brachycephalus] ephippium species group based on morphological characters,” researchers wrote in their abstract, also listing its “advertisement call” and certain DNA sequences as key ways they managed to confirm this wee being was different from those like it. 

The toadlets, while adorable, are poisonous to humans if consumed or if they come into contact with an open wound. However, this qualifies their threat level as minimal — people can handle the creatures with bare hands without harm, so long as they avoid their mouth and eyes afterward. Under UV light, the critters glow, although scientists aren’t sure why. 

“One hundred, even 50 years ago, it was very easy to describe new species. But now, we have to do a lot more work to describe these very similar species,” study author and São Paulo State University zoologist Ivan Sergio Nunes Silva Filho told Gizmodo. Nunes said that in order to determine the breed in the study was new, researchers needed to look at “their genetics, their external and internal morphology — even the sounds the frogs are making — and found there were some real differences that would make for a full species status.”

The amphibians had actually first been found in 2016, in Brazil’s Mantiqueira mountain range, but researchers at the time didn’t realize it was a unique species, Nunes told CNN. Thus, he was able to enjoy the peak scientific experience of, in realizing the species was unique, feeling that “you are the only person who knows at that moment,” he said. 

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