Darts is almost a national sport in the UK. Enthusiasts and players alike have been campaigning for it’s inclusion in the Olympics tirelessly. In other parts of the world the ability to be accurate with a dart is a matter of survival rather than a sign of sporting prowess.
On display in the Manchester Museum Vivarium, alongside the live frogs and reptiles, is a set of darts coated in deadly frog poison with their container or quiver from the South American country Guyana. The darts were given to the Museum by Halifax Museum in the 1950s. You will also see on the video a blowpipe that was collected near the Rio Negro, which is a tributary river north of the great Amazon River, so not too far from Guyana.
Darts like this and those still made today by the indigenous people of Guyana are used to hunt small mammals and birds in the forest canopy. The blowpipe and dart is still in use today because it is much more efficient than any modern rifle, it is silent, accurate and made from readily available natural resources. Unlike a bullet which relies on brut force the toxins in the poison contain a muscle relaxant which means any wounded prey quickly falls from the canopy. You’ll be able learn more about the Golden Poison-dart frog, poison darts and blowpipe in the short film below which I shot with Curator of HerpetologyAndrew Gray ealier this week.
If you would like to find out more about the particular species of frog used to make these type of darts follow the link to the Curator of HerpetologyAndrew Gray’s blog http://frogblogmanchester.wordpress.com/
Stephen Terence Welsh
Curator of Living Cultures