Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Titanoboa is getting all the attention, but where's the love for Beelzebufo?
Evans, lead author of a new paper detailing the find, describes the 70-million-year-old frog as a rather intimidating animal the size of a beach ball, 16 inches (41 centimeters) high and weighing about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms).

Like its closest modern-day relatives—a group of big-mouthed frogs in South America called ceratophyrines—the devil frog also probably had a very aggressive temperament....

"They're sometimes called Pac-Man frogs," she added, "and even the little ones will go for you. It's a frog with attitude, even today.

"And at two or three times the size of the largest living ceratophyrines, Beelzebufo would have had quite a lot more attitude."

The animal sported a protective shield and powerful jaws that may have enabled it to kill hatchling dinosaurs.
Emphasis mine. Now that's a batrachian for the ages!

Leaving aside the cheap thrills for a moment, Beelzebufo has some interesting biogeographic implications:

[Scientists] suggest that specimens like Beelzebufo provide proof of a later physical link between South America and Madagascar, most likely through a connection with Antarctica...

"In dinosaurs, crocodiles, birds, and mammals we've been seeing over and over again a close evolutionary relationship between animals in Madagascar and animals in South America," said Kristi Curry Rogers, a paleontologist at Macalester College in Saint Paul...

"Based on the modern and fossil distributions of this group of big frogs, it's not a pan-Gondwanan group," said Macalester's Curry Rogers.

"So far they haven't been recovered from the fossil record in India and Africa. They are in South America and Madagascar, and that's really interesting."

Found via this roundup of giant critters.

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