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Interesting Facts about the Devil Frog

Rohini Mohan
It is hard to imagine a beach ball-sized frog eating baby dinosaurs for breakfast. It is even harder to believe that its closest relatives are still alive and kept as pets! Welcome to the prehistoric world of the devil frog...

Did You Know?

"It's not outside the realm of possibility that Beelzebufo took down lizards and mammals and smaller frogs, and even -- considering its size -- possibly hatchling dinosaurs,"
- David Krause
Frogs are ancient creatures that came into existence around 199.6 Mya (million years ago) during the Early Jurassic period. Despite having come into existence so many years ago, the basic body structure of frogs have remained more or less unchanged even today.
For example, even though the oldest recorded and extinct "true frog" Vieraella lived 200 Mya during the Jurassic period, it resembled extant frogs anatomically!

The fossilized remains of the extinct Beelzebufo ampinga or devil frog were found by paleontologist David Krause. Several bone fragments were found in the rich Indian Ocean island of Madagascar in 1993
The rift between East and West Gondwana is credited to have created huge ocean bodies between the landmasses, which provided a conducive environment for vicarious marine and amphibian species such as the devil frog to evolve. West Gondwana split from the East around 160 Mya and thereafter took 88 million years to split into the individual landmasses, that we know today. West Gondwana consisted of South America and East Gondwana of Madagascar, Antarctica, India, and Australia.
Let's find out some more interesting facts about the devil frog from this AnimalSake article.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Amphibia
Order - Anura
Suborder - Neobatrachia
Superfamily - Hyloidea
Family - Leptodactylidae
Subfamily - Ceratophryinae
Genus - Beelzebufo
Species - B. ampinga

Facts About the Frog from Hell

● Also known as the frog from hell, the devil frog is thought to have croaked on earth around 65-70 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period immediately after the Jurassic period ended.

● The devil frog is currently the largest recorded prehistoric frog to have ever existed. It is believed to have been approximately 16 inches long and weighed 10 lbs (4.5 kg)!
● The goliath frog is the largest living frog in the world and is 13 inches long and can weigh up to 7.2 pounds (3.3 kg). Thus, making the devil frog 3 inches longer and much heavier than the goliath frog.

● The South American horned frogs or Pac-Man frogs are believed to be the closet living descendants of the devil frog. The Pac-Man frog also has a round skull, huge jaw, skull scutes, and stomach.
● Scientists are still trying to uncover exactly how the devil frog came to be found in Madagascar and why its closest living relatives are still thriving in South America. Attempts are also being made to find out the relationship between others species of frogs and the Beelzebufo ampinga.

● However, Pac-Man frogs are not as large as their devilish relative and are only 6 inches long and weigh up to one pound.
● The humongous devil frog was adapted to semi-arid areas and being a predatory species, used camouflage to sit and wait for prey to walk by, so that it could pounce on it at the opportune moment!

● The name Beelzebufo ampinga is derived from beelze, a Hebrew word for the Semitic deity Beelzebub which means 'Lord of Flies'.
● In Christian sources, Beelzebub was considered as another name for 'The Devil' and was thought to have been a prince of Hell. Whereas, bufo means 'toad' in Latin.

● The word ampinga is derived from Malagasy language and literally means 'shield', because of the distinct scutes present on the skull roof of the devil frog.
Beelzebufo ampinga were not only huge but also extremely aggressive and carnivorous. These frogs had sharp teeth, which were used for tearing the tough hide of their prey.
● These giant frogs would eat almost anything they could latch their sticky tongues on and would often eat animals half their size.

● Further excavation of Madagascar revealed a total of 75 fossilized fragments of the devil frog, which were used for reconstructing this 'King of Frogs'. While most of the skull has been recreated, parts of the skeleton still remain incomplete.
● Even though the first fossilized remains of the devil frog were found way back in 1993, the lack of sufficient data made it impossible for this prehistoric frog to be mentioned in the scientific journals and publicized.
The findings were finally published 14 years later as a research paper titled, 'A giant frog with South American affinities from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar' in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2008, by David W. Krause, Susan E. Evans, and Marc E. H. Jones.