Eight classes are mentioned when taxonomically considering this organism.  Essentially, there are eight different levels of classification we use to categorize Dendrobates azureus.  (Which we learned on the main page means blue tree walker.  The frog got its common name from its colouring patterns and its toxic reputation.) They include Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.  In the image I created for you above, you can see all levels of classification as they pertain to the eight levels.  I will now go on to explain why you will find our dear Dyeing dart frog in these classifications.

Domain (Eukarya):  The Domain Eukarya is filled with organisms which, as the name implies, have eukaryotic cells.  These cells have membrane-enclosed organelles, divide by mitosis, and can be unicellular, colonial, or multicellular.  You can see below where the Domain Eukarya and the Kingdom Animalia fall in to the phylogenetic tree of life, the kingdom the Dyeing dart frog falls into being circled.


Kingdom (Animalia):  The Kingdom Animalia contains multicellular and heterotrophic organisms.  That is to say that Animalia based organisms have more a "more than one cell" makeup and that they obtain nutrition by breaking down existing organic compound, unlike plants which photosynthesize to create sucrose for energy.  One organism from this kingdom which you may have seen outside near a lake or pond is a swan, which is multicellular.

Phylum (Chordata):  The Phylum Chordata is most likely the phylum most familiar to many people because within it are humans and other vertebrates, including of course Dendrobates azureus.  To be technical and precise, there are five specific characteristics which all chordates exhibit throughout at least one point in their lifetime.  These include: pharyngeal slits, a dorsal nerve cord, a notochord, a post-anal tail, and an endostyle.  Pharyngeal slits are sometimes presented as gills in particular organisms but in animals which do not use gills these slits are gaps or openings which lead from the interior of the throat to the exterior of the area of the neck.  A dorsal nerve cord is a cluster of nerves and nerve fibers which line the dorsal (or back) side.  A notochord is a structure made of cartilage which follows underneath and supports the nerve cord.  A post-anal tail is seen in many embryonic forms of the chordates and is a small protrusion of the body located above the anus of an organism.

Class (Amphibia):  The Class Amphibia has organisms which lead a life involving both water environments and land environments.  These organisms have anamniotic eggs which mean that in place of shells the eggs are laid with multiple gelatinous layers for protection.  They also cannot regulate their body temperature and due to the makeup of their skin they must usually remain within moist to wet and warm climates.  While you may say, "Oh yea, of course frogs are in the Class Amphibia.  They're amphibians!" this doesn't mean that the only animals in the Class Amphibia are frogs.  The Spotted Salamander is another organism in this class, differing from the Dyeing dart frog only in the taxonomic classification concerning Order.

Order (Anura):  The Order Anura names amphibians which are characterized as having no tails in adulthood (which is unlike the salamander, linked above, which is in the Order Caudata), as being unequal quadrupeds (four limbs, the hind legs usually being longer than the fore limbs), and as having external fertilization.  They also have more pronounced pelvic joints to allow for an enhanced jumping ability.  Another organism which shares this Order is the Red Eyed Tree Frog, which truly exemplifies the jumping abilities of this classification level.

Family (Dendrobatidae):  This Family Dendrobatidae describes anurans which are small, exhibit bright color patterns, and are neotropical (referring to a specific region of the world).  They are not however limited to frogs whose scientific names mimic this Family.  Phyllobates terribilis is another poison dart frog which differs from the Dyeing dart frog taxonomically at the next level. There are now eleven genera which further divide this taxonomic group, having recently been revised.  The more derived poison dart frogs are known for their production of skin alkaloids which are excreted through the skin and sourced from the insects in the diet of those specific genera.

Genus (Dendrobates):  The Genus Dendrobates, as its name implies, further specifies the members of the family Dendrobatidae which are found in high humidity and temperature habitats.  Most of these frogs are terrestrial, living among dead leaves and other such ground litter which covers the forest floor.  Only a few are arboreal, having the ability and common behavior of climbing trees.  They are not particular to inhabiting pools of water, and very rarely will go for a dip unless it is to lay eggs.

Species (Dendrobates azureus):  These Dendrobates are most notably distinct in skin coloration and finger formation.  The fingertips lead into discs with the first finger being the smallest, the second the largest, and the third and fourth of equal length to each other though intermediate in respect to the first two fingers.  You can see examples of these finger discs in the image of Perdita to the right.  There is no hint of webbing between any of the fingers.  The toes lead into more triangular shaped discs, being smaller than the fingers although also lacking webbing.  They are described as being bright blue, sometimes a sky-blue, with black spots all over the body.  There is a darker blue, almost purple shade tinting all four limbs, portions of the underbelly, and the lower part of the back (which turns the obvious spots located there to barely discriminate from the darker colouration).  There is no regular pattern to the frogs' spots, though the spots themselves are round and exhibit different sizes.  The belly tends to have smaller sized spots while the back has larger, more discernible spots.  Spot patterns are wide and varied between individuals, some having next to no spots on the throat and belly while others can have almost completely blackened areas.  (Obersve the differences between the spotting pattern of Perdita to the right and Pongo to the left.) The eyes of these frogs has been described as dark red-brown.  Compared to its relatives, this frog has a more pronounced hunched back which also leads to a slight bulge like belly. 

Below I've included a phylogenetic tree based off of mitochondrial DNA sequencing, which shows the relationships of other species of frogs compared to Dendrobates azureus.  The reason Dendrobates azureus is shown right next to D. tinctorius is because it is most likely a sub-species of D. tinctorius due to the difference in colouring patterns.




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