Science Buzz

Amazonian frog has secret weapon that protects it from attack

Amazonian frog, Lithodytes lineatus, sitting on a leaf
Photo: Giovanni Alberto Chaves Portilla, CC BY-SA 2.5

An Amazonian frog has a secret weapon that protects it from being attacked by ants.

Lithodytes lineatus, which lives in the Amazon region of South America, free of attack by leaf-cutting ants gives off a chemical scent that makes the ants think it’s one of them.

Leaf-cutter ants, whose colonies can total 1 million members, use chemical odours for communication and recognition of their own kind.

Mimicry is not unusual in the animal kingdom, whether it’s spiders pretending to be ants, birds looking like caterpillars, or wild cats sounding like their prey. But scent mimicry is rarely seen in vertebrates, say scientists from Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research.