The incredible frog that battled dinosaurs

Beelzebufo as seen in computer game Ark: Survival Evolved.
Beelzebufo as seen in computer game Ark: Survival Evolved. Photo credit: Studio Wildcard

Scientists claim a prehistoric amphibian named 'devil frog' could have feasted on dinosaurs 68 million years ago.

'Beelzebufo', a massive horned frog that leaped about the island of Madagascar, was first discovered in 2008. New research on its modern-day descendants has found it had biting power similar to that of a tiger or wolf.

"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," said Dr Marc Jones of the University of Adelaide's School of Biological Science.

His team measured the biting strength of modern frogs and extrapolated that out to frogs the size of Beelzebufo, which was 41cm long and weighed 4.5kg.

"At this bite force, Beelzebufo would have been capable of subduing the small and juvenile dinosaurs that shared its environment," says Dr Jones.

"Horned frogs have quite an impressive bite and they tend not to let go," said Prof Kristopher Lappin of California State Polytechnic University.

"The bite of a large Beelzebufo would have been remarkable, definitely not something I would want to experience first-hand."

PhD candidate Sean Wilcox, who contributed to the research, said many people "find horned frogs hilarious, because of their big heads and fat, round bodies", but they would have been no pushover for dinosaurs, many of which were small and on their way to evolving into birds.

The research was published this week in the Scientific Reports journal.