Some geoscientists have suggested a lingering physical link between South America and Madagascar during the Late Cretaceous Period -- a link involving Antarctica. Antarctica in the Late Cretaceous was much warmer than it is today.
"The occurrence of this frog in Madagascar and its relatives' existence in South America provides strong evidence that the supercontinent Gondwana 'disassembled' during the latest part of the Cretaceous," said Richard Lane, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences.
Krause and colleagues have hypothesized this connection based on previous discoveries of sauropod and theropod dinosaurs, crocodiles and mammals in Madagascar that were very closely related to forms in South America.
Beelzebufo is one of the largest frogs on record and was perhaps the largest frog ever to exist. The size and robustness of its bones and its relatedness to the rotund South American forms indicates it was also probably the heaviest frog to exist.
The size, girth, appearance, and predatory nature of the frog prompted its discoverers to call it the "armored frog from hell." They derived the genus name from the Greek word for devil (Beelzebub) and the Latin word for toad (bufo). The species name, ampinga, means "shield."
The largest living frog today is the goliath frog of West Africa, which attains lengths of 12.5 inches and weights of 7.2 pounds. The largest frog alive on Madagascar today, at just over four inches long, "would have been a nice hors d'oeuvre for Beelzebufo," Krause said.
Since the discovery of the first bones found in northwestern Madagascar in 1993, Krause and his team have gathered some 75 fossil fragments of Beelzebufo. Through the accumulation of these fossils, the team has been able to reconstruct the frog's skeleton, including nearly the entire skull.
Not only was the frog huge, it was powerful in design, had a protective shield, an extre
|Contact: Cheryl Dybas|
National Science Foundation