The Armored, Possibly Dinosaur-Eating "Devil Frog"


Hello, class, and welcome to Today In Frogs. Today’s frog is called the Devil Frog, by scientists, for real. Above you will find an artist’s rendering of it eating a dinosaur (?) (!).

The Devil Frog, Beelzebufo ampinga, lived about 70 million years ago in Gondwana (fossils are now found mostly in Madagascar). Back in 2008, some scientists decided it was the biggest frog that ever lived, the size of a “squashed beach ball,” which apparently is about 16 inches long, and that it probably ate baby dinosaurs. An artist promptly drew that picture of a frog eating a dinosaur, thank you artist.

The newest study of it, published this week in the journal PLOS One, found that it’s weirder than expected; you know you’re dealing with a real weird animal when scientists describe it with phrases like “it was mostly a mouth.” Armored like a turtle, too heavy to hop, with big scary horns on its head and mean sharp teeth, the Devil Frog’s newly reconstructed skeleton makes it unlikely that the frog really moved that much; it probably buried itself and then used its giant scary mouth to grab whatever came by.

Unfortunately, that may not have been dinosaurs; of the five skeletons used in the new study, none were bigger than about 10 inches. But that’s only five Devil Frogs, so who knows, really. Here’s what a reconstructed skeleton looks like:



Top image by Nobu Tamura. Bottom image by Evans et al.