Beelzebufo – The Devil Toad

Devil Toad Size ComparisonBeelzebufo ampinga has been popularly called the “Devil toad” or the “frog from Hell”, and the name “Beelzebufo” itself even mirrors this idea. “Ampinga” means “shield”, referring to the defensive bones in teh cranium which acted like a shield should the frog be attacked. This prehistoric frog lived 70 million years ago in Madagascar. At that time, Madagascar had recently split from India. While some estimates predict that Beelzebufo was just barely larger than the average American bullfrog, some scientists believe that they could grow to well over a foot in length. They could have weighed around 10 pounds. If this is true, then Beelzebufo would be larger and outweigh the largest living toad today, the Goliath Toad. That would make this frog the largest we know of to have ever lived. And this could be true, as animals who live in remote and isolated locations (such as Madagascar) tend to grow to larger sizes than those on large continents with lots of predators.

 

So why was this frog named for the Devil? For one thing, the media has grabbed onto the idea of a larger than usual frog and ran with it. Secondly, it seems that the frog’s bite strength dwarfed those of modern day frogs, and they could have been capable of eating small dinosaurs. Despite whether or not they did in fact eat small dinosaurs, the diet of these frogs definitely consisted of lizards and small vertebrates.

Devil Toad FossilThe physiology of these large prehistoric frogs remarkably mirrors that of horned frogs in South America. At the time that Beelzebufo lived, Madagascar and South American were not connected and weren’t even close. There seem to be two camps of this question. One, that their similarities is an example of convergent evolution, that they adapted separately and yet found a similar solution to the problems their environments threw at them. Second, some believe that they are distantly related and that they might have shared a common ancestor a while before Beelzebufo hopped the Earth. There is a third less popular theory that Madagascar and South America were connected via some sort of land bridge, but this hasn’t been proven and is somewhat shaky ground to stand upon.

 

Discovered in 1993 by David Krause, this species boasts a nearly complete skeleton, and almost all of the bones in the skull have been found. However, these fossils took many years to find and a scientific description was published many years later, in 2008.

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