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10-pound ‘Giant Frog From Hell’ discovered in Madagascar

10-pound ‘Giant Frog From Hell’ ate baby dinosaurs

10-pound ‘Giant Frog From Hell’ discovered in Madagascar
February 18, 2008

Researchers have discovered the remains of what may be the largest frog ever to exist.

Working in Madagascar, scientists led by Stony Brook University paleontologist Dr. David Krause found the remains of a 16-inch, 10-pound frog that lived some 65 to 70 million years ago. The frog, known as Beelzebufo or devil frog, was so large and powerfully built, it may have eaten baby dinosaurs.

Oddly the species is most closely related to a group of frogs presently living in South America.

“Beelzebufo appears to be a very close relative of a group of South American frogs known as ‘ceratophyrines,’ or ‘pac-man’ frogs because of their immense mouths,” said Krause.”But Beelzebufo was much larger than any of its relatives or any other living frog, as if it was on steroids.”

Illustration by Luci Betti-Nash Beelzebufo ampigna faces off against the largest known living Malagasy frog, Mantydactylus ampigna. (Full-length pencil provides size perspective.)

The largest present-day frog species in Madagascar measures only four inches, while the world’s largest living frog is the goliath frog of West Africa, which reaches 12.5 inches long and can weigh up to 7.2 pounds.

Krause said the find provides “direct evidence of a one-time land connection between Madagascar, the largest island off Africa’s southeast coast, and South America that did not involve Africa,” according to a statement from Stony Brook University.

“The finding presents a real puzzle biogeographically, particularly because of the poor fossil record of frogs on southern continents,” said Dr. Krause. “We’re asking ourselves, ‘What’s a ‘South American’ frog doing half-way around the world, in Madagascar?'”

Krause says that some geoscientists have recently proposed a physical link between South America and Madagascar during the Late Cretaceous Period through Antarctica.

In addition to Beelzebufo, the closest relatives of other plants and animals from Madagascar — including species of snake, lizard, crocodile, mammal, and palm tree — are found in South America

The research is reported in this week’s online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr Susan E. Evans of University College London in England was lead author, while Dr. Marc E. H. Jones, also of University College London, was a co-author.

Evans, S., Krause, D., Jones, M. (2008). “A giant frog with South American affinities from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar.” PNAS week of February 18.

Other articles on frogs in Madagascar

Poison frogs less toxic when habitat degraded
A new study suggests habitat degradation may put some frogs at greater risk of predation by reducing their toxicity. Studying Mantella poison frogs on the island of Madagascar, a team of researchers led by Valerie C. Clark, a chemistry PhD student at Cornell University who earlier this year published a paper describing the origin of frog toxins as being the insects upon which they feed, found that frogs collected from intact forests “consistently have a greater diversity of insect-derived toxins accumulated in their skin than do frogs from disturbed and fragmented forests.”

Study discovers why poison dart frogs are toxic
Poison poison dart frogs are small, colorful frogs found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. The brilliant coloration of these amphibians warns predators of their extraordinary toxicity — the golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis) of Colombia is said to be lethal if held in one’s hand.

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