Devil Frog, Beelzebufo Ampinga

The Devil Frog, Beelzebufo Ampinga, known also as the Devil Toad or The Frog From Hell, was a particularly large species of prehistoric frog first identified in 2007. Fossils of this frog have been recovered from strata of the Maevarano Formation in Madagascar, dating to the late Cretaceous Period, some 70 million years ago.

The generic name Beelzebufo is a portmanteau of Beelzebub, which is a Semitic deity whose name may be translated as Lord of the Flies, sometimes identified either as one of the chief lieutenants, or alter ego of the Christian Devil, a bufo, which is Latin for “toad”. The specific name ampinga means “shield” in the Malagasy language.

The species may have grown to over 16 inches and 9 pounds. The bones of the skull roof shows a rugous external surface, which indicates that at least parts of the head may have borne scutes.

Compared to living horned frogs, Beelzebufo was a predator whose expansive mouth enabled it to eat relatively large prey, perhaps even juvenile dinosaurs.

The first fossil pieces were found in 1993 by David W. Krause of New York’s Stony Brook University, but it took fourteen years for scientists Susan E. Evans, Marc E. H. Jones, and Krause to assemble enough data for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the journal of the United States National Academy of Sciences. Some 75 fossil pieces have been uncovered. Researchers have been able to reconstruct parts of the frog’s skeleton, including almost the entire skull.

Image Caption: Size and shape comparison of Beelzebufo with a typical six-inch-long (15 cm) American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana). Cranwell’s horned frog (Ceratophrys cranwelli) is standing in as a model for the former. Credit: Kazvorpal/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)