Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Terrible Golden Frog

The Leopard often wonders what I could I have become other than an artist. Without much thought, I think I would have been a zoologist.
I had lots of animals in my home as a child. Fish, birds, dogs, cats, lizards. For a while my pals and I were on a tropical fish kick when I was around 13-14, spending all our paper route money on rare specimens.

The only thing I enjoyed drawing as much as superheros were animals. I have a lifelong love of amphibians and lizards, especially. Their design is so beautiful, colors so vivid, they're a delight to render.

One of the most fascinating creatures I remember reading about is the Phyllobates terribilis, the Golden Poison Frog. It's from the Amazon forest and is considered one of the most poisonous animals in the world. This frog secretes this extremely toxic venom from its glands. To even touch it can cause death. Native tribes dip darts in their poison to paralyze enemies and prey.

The interesting thing for me is the contradiction that not only are these frogs breathtakingly beautiful, but the scientists find that the poison is also the basis for a powerful painkiller--A medical breakthrough.
Paul Simon once wrote a lyric where he mentions Phyllobates terribilis. "SenÒrita with a Necklace of Tears":

There is a frog in South America
Whose venom is a cure
For all the suffering that mankind
Must endure
More powerful than morphine
And soothing as the rain
A frog in South America
Has the antidote for pain

(Click title to hear song in its entirety)

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