R. imitator, a species of poison dart frog found in Peru, warns predators of its toxicity with a colorful giraffe-like pattern.
Striped Poison Dart Frog
In nearby regions, the same species of frog sports yellow stripes rather than yellow-green squiggles.
Researchers made fake frogs out of clay and painted them to mimic R. imitator patterns. This fake frog shows evidence of a predator attack.
Fake Frog on a Leaf
Real or fake? Predators had trouble telling that this frog was made of clay.
When Predators Attack
The aftermath of an attack on a decoy frog.
A brown frog designed to look like a non-toxic species shows signs of attack.
Even a failed attack would be deadly to a real frog.
These poison dart frogs evolved their colors hyper-locally, with warning signals that stave off only predators in their neighborhoods.
Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.