IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

Comprehensive Description

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Description

Adults 27-29 mm SVL. Dendrobates mysteriosus is the only Peruvian representative in the subfamily Dendrobatinae which is larger than ~22 mm SVL. Morphologically, this is one of the most distinctive poison frogs. Adults are black or brown with white ‘polka-dots’ covering the dorsal and ventral sides of the entire body and appendages. Although this spotting is highly variable, adults consistently have a single spot under the chin, and an ovoid spot on the underside of the thighs. Dorsal skin relatively granular. First finger slightly shorter than the second although well developed.

Tadpoles are black and elongate, with a labial tooth row formula of 2(2)/3(1).

This species was rediscovered in 1989, 60 years after its original collection (Schulte 1990). Myers (1982) suggested this species was a close relative of D. captivus on the basis of hand morphology and a pale, ovoid spot under the thigh. Schulte (1990) vehemently opposed this hypothesis, suggesting that D. mysteriosus was more closely related to members of Oophaga on the basis of size and call parameters, although he did not provide any useful call characteristics aside from dominant frequency. Twomey and Brown (2008) provided the first phylogenetic analysis containing both D. captivus and D. mysteriosus, and found support for Myers’ hypothesis that these two species were close relatives. Because of the genetic and morphological dissimilarities between these species and all other species of Ranitomeya, Twomey and Brown (2008) proposed a new genus, Dendrobates, to include these species.

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