Hop. Thud. Hop. Thud. Hop. Thud.
What’s that mega-amphibian outside the entrance to the Swarthmore Public Library? It’s the latest work of whimsical discovery by Swarthmorean and amateur paleontologist Eric Schaff, who says he has reconstructed an ancient giant frog. He emerged from his lab/workshop to discuss the creature.
Beelzebufo, or devil frog, comes from the Greek word for devil (Beelzebub) and the Latin word for toad (bufo). It lived 65-70 million years ago.
Around 2008, the largest fossil bones of this species were found in Madagascar, the largest island off Africa. These frogs are significant because they may provide additional direct evidence of a one-time land connection between Madagascar, Africa, South America and a much warmer Antarctica from the Late Cretaceous Period.
Because of the similarities of frogs in these other areas and because these frogs don’t usually migrate far in water, it suggests the land connection of a supercontinent which broke apart at the end of the Cretaceous period.
Living counterparts, though much smaller, are known to camouflage themselves in their surroundings, then ambush predators. The largest frog on Madagascar today is just over four inches long. Beelzebufo may have been capable of killing lizards, other small vertebrates, and perhaps even newborn dinosaurs.