Giant "Frog From Hell" Fossil Found in Madagascar

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
February 18, 2008

Scientists working in Madagascar have found what may be the largest frog that ever lived.

The bad-tempered Beelzebufo, or "devil frog," also poses a big mystery—Why do its closest relatives live half a world away in South America?

Paleontologist David Krause of Stony Brook University in New York and his colleagues began unearthing the specimen in bits and pieces more than a decade ago.

Over the years a 75-piece puzzle emerged that was only recently put together by fossil-frog expert Susan Evans of University College London.

Evans, lead author of a new paper detailing the find, describes the 70-million-year-old frog as a rather intimidating animal the size of a beach ball, 16 inches (41 centimeters) high and weighing about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms).

Attitude to Match

Like its closest modern-day relatives—a group of big-mouthed frogs in South America called ceratophyrines—the devil frog also probably had a very aggressive temperament.

"These ceratophyrines are really aggressive, ambush predators," Evans said.

"They are round with big mouths, and they will sit there and grab onto anything that walks past."

"They're sometimes called Pac-Man frogs," she added, "and even the little ones will go for you. It's a frog with attitude, even today.

"And at two or three times the size of the largest living ceratophyrines, Beelzebufo would have had quite a lot more attitude."

The animal sported a protective shield and powerful jaws that may have enabled it to kill hatchling dinosaurs.

Continued on Next Page >>


SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.