70-million-year-old giant frog fossil in Madagascar

This video is called Argentine Horned Frog (Ceratophrys ornata).

From the BBC:

Frog from hell‘ fossil unearthed

A 70-million-year-old fossil of a giant frog has been unearthed in Madagascar by a team of UK and US scientists.

The creature would have been the size of a “squashed beach ball” and weighed about 4kg (9lb), the researchers said.

They added that the fossil, nicknamed Beelzebufo or “frog from hell”, was “strikingly different” from present-day frogs found on the island nation.

Details of the discovery are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The team from University College London (UCL) and Stony Brook University, New York, said the frog would have had a body length of about 40cm (16 inches), and was among the largest of its kind to be found.

“This frog, a relative of today’s horned toads, would have been the size of a slightly squashed beach-ball, with short legs and a big mouth,” explained co-author Susan Evans, from UCL’s Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.

“If it shared the aggressive temperament and ‘sit-and-wait’ ambush tactics of [present-day] horned toads, it would have been a formidable predator on small animals.

“Its diet would most likely have consisted of insects and small vertebrates like lizards, but it’s not impossible that Beelzebufo might even have munched on hatchling or juvenile dinosaurs.”

The researchers added that the discovery of the fossil supported the theory that Madagascar and the Indian and South American land masses could have been linked until the Late Cretaceous Period (75-65 million years ago).

“Our discovery of a frog strikingly different from today’s Madagascan frogs, and akin to the horned toads previously considered endemic to South America, lends weight to the controversial model,” Professor Evans explained.

Cretaceous reptiles and mammals in Madagascar: here.

[Horned] Frog tadpoles ‘scream’ underwater, discover scientists: here.

12 thoughts on “70-million-year-old giant frog fossil in Madagascar

  1. South Africa: Leopard Toad Gets New Home

    Cape Argus (Cape Town)

    18 March 2008
    Posted to the web 19 March 2008

    John Yeld
    Cape Town

    Move over the likes of Sea Cottage, William Penn, In Full Flight and Pocket Power – here comes Big Mamma!

    Actually, while Big Mamma’s stamping ground is now also the Kenilworth race course and she’s certainly a valuable thoroughbred, she’s not a horse.

    She’s an endangered Western Leopard Toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus) and she’s living in the nature reserve in the centre of the course that is also home to some of the Western Cape’s most endangered plant and animal species, making it arguably the most important conservation area in the Western Cape.

    Big Mamma was found by Rheter Chamers, who lives very close to the race course in lower Wynberg and who was alerted to the toad’s presence in her small garden by her little terrier.

    “I wasn’t surprised to find it there as I don’t use chemicals and I have bees and butterflies and frogs and lots of other little creatures there,” Chamers explained.

    “But I was surprised at the size of it – it’s enormous!”

    She called the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa for advice. It asked conservationist Una Hartley to pay Chamers a visit.

    Hartley confirmed that the creature was indeed a Western Leopard Toad and told Chamers the species was territorial and that it had probably taken up residence.

    But Chamers was concerned about her terrier, as the toads are potentially poisonous if attacked and their skin secretion can kill dogs.

    That’s when Chamers’s neighbour suggested a translocation to the reserve.

    “They (the reserves managers) came and were absolutely thrilled because they’d never seen a toad that size – it’s at least as big as your hands held together!” she said.

    Maya Beukes, reserve manager of the Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area, said there were historic records of Western Leopard Toads occurring in the area.

    “But only very few toads have been found in more recent years, which is why every individual is critical to the survival of this population.

    “Very little is known about this population such as where they live and forage and where their breeding site is.

    “We’re hoping that by monitoring Big Mamma more closely we’ll be able to find out more about her friends and family and in doing so ensure their long-term survival in Kenilworth.”

    The Western Leopard Toad is the largest toad in South Africa, with females reaching a length of up to 140mm.

    They have a striking appearance with large red-brown patches on a creamy-yellow background and a yellow vertical stripe above and granular white skin below.


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