Shop Windows to the Universe

We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.
The giant frog Beelzebufo, or "devil frog," was the largest frog ever to live on Earth.
Courtesy of SUNY-Stony Brook

Giant Fossil Frog Found in Madagascar
News story originally written on February 18, 2008

If you went looking for frogs today on the island of Madagascar, the largest one you could find would be just over four inches long. But if you went looking for frogs more than 65 million years ago, you could have found some giants.

A team of researchers discovered the fossils of what may be the largest frog ever to exist on planet Earth. The frog, named Beelzebufo, or “devil frog,” was 16-inch across and 10-pounds. It hopped around Madagascar at the end of the Mesozoic Era - 65 to 70 million years ago.

Paleontologist David Krause discovered the first bones of the giant frog in Madagascar in 1993. Since then, Krause and his team have gathered some 75 fossil frog fragments, enough to reconstruct the frog's skeleton, including nearly the entire skull.

According to the fossil skeleton, this frog was a powerful animal with a protective shield, an extremely wide mouth and powerful jaws. These traits made Beelzebufo able to kill lizards and other small vertebrates, perhaps even baby dinosaurs. This frog was a voracious predator.

Beelzebufo is in the group of frogs that have huge mouths – mouths large enough to be worthy of the group’s nickname: 'pac-man' frogs.

Fossil frog experts Susan Evans and Marc Jones discovered that Beelzebufo is most likely related to frogs living today in South America.

“We're asking ourselves, 'What's a 'South American' frog doing half-way around the world, in Madagascar?'" said David Krause.

This is the first time a fossil group has been found in Madagascar, an island off Africa's southeast coast, with living relatives in South America, over 7,000 miles (11,000 km) away. Other fossils have been found on both Madagascar to South America including closely related fossils of plant-eating and meat-eating dinosaurs, crocodiles, and mammals.

All this may be evidence from the time when, because of plate tectonics, Africa, South America, and Antarctica were connected forming a supercontinent.

Last modified June 26, 2008 by Lisa Gardiner.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes fun classroom activities for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

What Is a Fossil?

Fossils are evidence of ancient life preserved in sedimentary rocks. On Earth, they are clues to what living things, ecosystems, and environments were like in the past. The oldest fossils are from mats...more

Plate Tectonics

The main force that shapes our planet’s surface over long amounts of time is the movement of Earth's outer layer by the process of plate tectonics. This picture shows how the rigid outer layer of the...more

Triggers of Volcanic Eruptions in Oregon's Mount Hood Investigated

Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. "The data will help give us a better road map to what a future...more

Oldest Earth Mantle Reservoir Discovered

The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core, and makes up about 84 percent of the Earth's volume. The mantle is made up of many distinct portions or...more

It’s Not Your Fault – A Typical Fault, Geologically Speaking, That Is

Some geologic faults that appear strong and stable, slip and slide like weak faults, causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults in a new way to figure out why. In theory,...more

Lower Solar Activity Linked to Changes in Sun's Conveyor Belt

The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more

Growth Spurt in Tree Rings Prompts Questions About Climate Change

Studying tree rings doesn't only tell us the age of that tree. Tree rings also show what climate was like for each year of a tree's life, which means they can tell us about climates of the past and about...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA