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Identity of a New World Psychoactive Toad

  • Wade Davis (a1) and Andrew T. Weil (a2)

Anthropologists have long speculated that ancient peoples of Mesoamerica used a toad, Bufo marinus, as a ritual intoxicant. This hypothesis rests on many iconographic and mythological representations of toads and on a number of speculative ethnographic reports. We reject B. marinus as a candidate for such use because of the toxicity of its venom. A more likely candidate is the Sonoran desert toad, Bufo alvarius, which secretes large amounts of the potent, known hallucinogen, 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT). We demonstrate that the venom of B. alvarius, though known to be toxic when consumed orally, may be safely smoked and is powerfully psychoactive by that route of administration. These experiments are the first documentation of a hallucinogenic agent from the animal kingdom, and they provide clear evidence of a psychoactive toad that could have been employed by Precolumbiae peoples of the New World.

Los antropológos han especulado que durante mucho tiempo la antigua gente de Mesoamérica utilizaba un tipo de sapo, Bufo marinus, como un intoxicante ritual. Esta hipótesis se basa en representaciones icono gráficas y mitológicas de sapos y en un número de reportes etnográficos especulativos. Los autores rechazen B. marinus como un candidate para tal uso per la toxicidad de su veneno. Un candidate más probable es el sapo del desierto Sonoran, Bufo alvarius, que segrega uea gran cantidad de una potente sustencia alucinógena conocido como, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamina (5-MeO-DMT). Los autores demuestran que el veneno de B. alvarius, aunque se conoce como una toxina poderosa cuando es consumido oralmente, puede ser fumado y es un psicodélico poderoso cuando es administrado de esta manera. Estos experimentos son la primera documentatión de un agente alucinógeno derivado del mundo animal, y proveen evidencias claras de un sapo psicodélico que puede haber sido empleado por gente precolombiana del Nuevo Mundo.

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Ancient Mesoamerica
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  • EISSN: 1469-1787
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