Whenever I take a picture of an insect and I don't know what it is [always!!], I send it to the head of the U. of California [Davis] entomology department, Dr. Lynne Kimsey, and she identifies it for me. In this case it is indeed an interesting beetle. Its counterparts in New Guinea and in Colombia apparently eat it and thus derive their poisonous toxins.
In New Guinea its eaten by the Hooded Pitohui, a bird that is poisonous if eaten. In Colombia, Melyrid species beetles are eaten by the poison dart frogs [Phyllobates terribilis]whose skin is so toxic it can kill humans who touch it. The Choco Indians, who live in the jungle, touch their arrows to the skin of the frog. This makes the arrows poisonous enough so the arrow will kill a monkey, if the arrow strikes it.
Captured poison dart frogs lose their toxicity if they aren't fed this type of beetle.
So, a chance photo encounter with this beetle [its relatives may be poisonous but I don't think this particular species is] allowed me to learn something unusual about nature. One more good thing about searching the Internet and doing nature photography.
I used the Nikon 200mm macro lens and the SB-800 flash for fill light on my Nikon D70 for this photo.
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