Poison Dart Frog
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.
Sign up for the Live Science daily newsletter now
Get the world’s most fascinating discoveries delivered straight to your inbox.
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.