Scientists have discovered that a large, now-extinct frog lived in Madagascar about 68 million years ago and had the ability to eat small dinosaurs thanks to its extremely powerful jaw and bite.
Researchers are calling this frog Beelzebuflo, or “devil frog.”
Obviously, this is a unique find, and the study authors say that the bite force of South American horned frogs who are part of the [still] living genus Ceratophyrs. These are known as Pacman frogs because of their characteristic round shape and large mouth that makes the frog actually physically resemble the video game character Pac-Man. Because of their attractive body colouring, voracious appetite, and oddly sized heads, these horned frogs have become quite popular in the international pet trade.
“Unlike the vast majority of frogs which have weak jaws and typically consume small prey, horned frogs ambush animals as large as themselves – including other frogs, snakes, and rodents,” explains University of Adelaide School of Biological Sciences researcher Dr. Marc Jones. “And their powerful jaws play a critical role in grabbing and subduing the prey.”
Also an honorary researcher with the South Australian Museum, Dr. Jones describes how scientists from the University of Adelaide worked with researchers with California State Polytechnic University, the University of California, and the University College London to find that these living horned frogs have a very similar bite force to the bite force of mammalian predators.
Essentially, “This would feel like having 50 litres of water balanced on your fingertip,” explains Professor Kristopher Lappin, who is a Professor of Biological Sciences at California State Polytechnic University – Pomona.
And Dr. Jones puts it this way: “At this bite force, Beelzebufo would have been capable of subduing the small and juvenile dinosaurs that shared its environment.”
Lappin also adds, “This is the first time bite force has been measured in a frog. And, speaking from experience, horned frogs have quite an impressive bite, and they tend not to let go. The bite of a large Beelzebufo would have been remarkable, definitely not something I would want to experience firsthand.”
Finally, University of California PhD candidate, Sean Wilcox notes, “Many people find horned frogs hilarious because of their big heads and fat, round bodies. Yet, these predators have given us a rare opportunity to learn something more about the biology of a huge extinct frog.”