Three hunters were found dead around a campfire with no marks on them and no sign of a struggle. What could have killed them?
About 50 years ago three guys went out for a hunt in Oregon. At some point they built a campfire and brewed some coffee.
All three were found dead around their campfire with not a single mark on them and no sign of an attack or a struggle. Nothing was stolen.
The only thing out of the ordinary on the scene was the newt that lay curled up in the coffee pot. To be specific, it was a rough-skinned newt.
These little newts are not just poisonous, they're pretty much walking little death machines. They produce tetrodotoxin (TTX for short) under their skin and it is 10,000 times more deadly than cyanide!
TTX blocks signals in the nervous system, leading to a very speedy death.
The rough-skinned newt has a rather dull-looking brown back, but when the little guy gets upset, it folds its head backwards to reveal the most brilliant yellow underside. In nature, bright colors are often a warning of toxicity.
Although it has never been established what exactly killed the three Oregon hunters, what is known is that the newt in the coffee pot could have effortlessly produce enough TTX to kill them and a dozen more men.