All About the Beelzebufo: The Devil Frog

Photo: Nobu Tamura via Wikimedia Commons

The most popular type of amphibian alive today is frogs, with 5,500 estimated separate species, which makes them the most successful and diverse of the Lissamphibians. They spread all the continents from Africa to Australia, from South America to Asia, but their fossil record in Antarctica is abysmal.

Although still existing, scientists debate how many real families make up the order, including toads and frogs – Anura. With ongoing discussion on categorizing toads and frogs today, it is no surprise that difficulties arise when you consider how scanty the fossil evidence is when trying to put together the relationships and development between makings of Anura.

Now the espial of a giant, Late Cretaceous Anura from Madagascar that may be associated with the horned frogs of South America, has sparked a broad discussion over frog family lineage.

Toads and frogs are specialized Lissamphibians with similar morphology, unlike their existing families and their amphibian ancestors from the Palaeozoic. Compared with other amphibian categories, they have dramatically limited skeletons, no tail, lacking ribs, a minor pelvic girdle, and very few vertebrae. 

One of the earliest frogs was also discovered in Madagascar, known as Triadobatrachus; this vanished genus of salientian frog-like amphibians dates back to the Triassic. Toads and frogs were presumably relatively plentiful in the Mesozoic. However, the lack of fossil evidence hinders Palaeontologists in working out Anura evolution. 

Even though fossil bones have been documented from several Mesozoic sites, they have usually separated fragments, humeri, ilia, and the rugged skull components such as the squamosals and frontoparietal – parts from the top through the rear of the skull.

Researchers from Stony Brook University, NY, supported by a research team from University College, London, led by vertebrate Palaeontologist and Morphologist Susan Evans, have broadcasted their discoveries on this new Madagascan species of the giant frog.

David Krause of Stony Brook University, who led the discovery, can disable current scientific consideration over the isolation of Madagascar, which was believed to have occurred in the Cretaceous. The conventional theory is that by approximately 95,000,000 years ago, the land mass that eventually formed Madagascar and India had broken away from Africa, and some of the breakup parts of Gondwanaland (New Zealand, Australia, Africa, South America, and Antarctica).  

The fossilized bones of Beelzebufo, a frog almost the size of a beach ball and weighing around 4 kg, making it the most giant frog discovered to date, look like the bones of the surviving frog group – the Ceratophyrinae. 

The Ceratophyrinae, labeled the "horned frogs," as many members of this group have soft stretchings of skin protruding from the upper eyelid that resemble small horns related to South America. The discovery has indicated that this animal is not associated with any of the frog species in Madagascar today.  

Suppose Madagascar was an isolated island when Beelzebufo existed. How can scientists explain a Ceratophyrinae group member on island thousands of kilometers away from their motherland of the South Americas?

Description and Appearance

The Beelzebufo ampinga is a medium-sized amphibian frog that resembles the modern-day bull-frog or toad, except that it is far more significant in size.

It derived its name from Beelzebub, the Greek word for "devil," and bufo, the Latin word for toad. Ampinga means "armored," which describes the species' prominent cranial shield on its head.

Beelzebufo ampinga, the giant "devil" frog, is recorded as the largest frog ever. Now extinct beach-ball-size amphibians grew to 16 inches in length and weighed about 10 pounds. They inhabited Madagascar island in the Late Cretaceous, about 70 million years ago.

Scientists say these primarily terrestrial frogs may have been as aggressive and ill-tempered as their living families, the Ceratophyrinae of South America. Ceratophyrinaes are hostile ambush predators that are enthusiastic at snapping at anything that happens to appear as prey.


Its quick and lengthy tongue allows it to kill and consume insects such as the Titanomyrma or Meganeura nearly instantly. Even though the Beelzebufo belongs to the carnivore animal category, it is not aggressive towards tamed creatures or survivors unless attacked.

Beelzebufo eats all kinds of fish or meat to start the tame; they do, however, prefer raw prime meat, Pulmonoscorpius kibble, prime raw fish, and raw mutton.

The massive devil frogs may have snared small vertebrates, lizards, and even hatchling dinosaurs with their giant maws and powerful jaws.

Distribution and Habitat

The Beelzebufo, like other frog families, resides in the Madagascar island's swamps and the marshy areas, the center, and Ragnarok. They do, however, not surface on the Scorched world map due to the lack of their natural habitat.


The existence of Beelzebufo on Madagascar island poses an essential question for researchers: How is it that the contemporary relatives of this massive frog are only located halfway around the planet in South America?

Most scientists conclude that Madagascar was isolated from Africa some 160 million years ago in the separation of the Gondwana supercontinent. And Madagascar split from India to become an isolated island about 88 million years ago. 

Madagascan fossils and Beelzebufo with South American elements suggest a land linkage between Madagascar, South America, and perhaps Antarctica may exist about 70 million years ago.

You know what's most mysterious though? The reason why you still don't have Gage Beasley's Beelzebufo Prehistoric Frog Profile Unisex T-shirt in your closet—that's the most mind-boggling part. A cool frog deserves a cool owner, you know?



Gage Beasley's Beelzebufo Prehistoric Frog Profile Unisex T-shirt

Beelzebufo Bite Force


Photo: Evgenia Chiley via Getty Images

By estimating the bite force of its existing relatives, investigators were able to scale things up to evaluate the jaw power of the extinct behemoths. They discovered that dinosaur hatchlings must have been on their menu.

The study estimated the bite force of the horned frogs in South America with a custom force device called a transducer. This device comprises two metal plates and can accurately calculate the pressure applied when the animal bites. According to the investigators, that's the first time frog's bite force was measured.

Unlike the extensive majority of frogs, which have weak jaws and typically gulp small prey, horned frogs ambush preys as large as their size, which includes other frogs, rodents, and snakes. And their strong jaws play a vital role in capturing and subduing the prey.

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Gage Beasley's Beelzebufo Prehistoric Frog White Ceramic Mug

The study found that the tiny horned frogs, with a head width of about 4.5cm, pack a bite force of 30N, an equivalent of 3kg.

Then the team went further to determine the bite force of the vanished Beelzebufo. These giant monsters grew to 41cm long and, weighed 4.5kg, could have a bite compared to a wolf – about 2,200N.

On bite force, Beelzebufo would be capable of suppressing the young dinosaurs that shared the same environment.

Final Thoughts

Conclusively, the Beelzebufo ampinga was a frog that is now extinct. These beach-ball-size amphibians grew to 16 inches in length and weighed about 10 pounds. They inhabited the island of Madagascar during the Late Cretaceous, about 70 million years ago.

Scientists say that these primarily terrestrial frogs may have been as ill-tempered and aggressive as their living relatives, the ceratophrys of South America. What more do you know about the Beelzebufo ampinga? Tell us in the comment below!



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