UCL News


UCL in the News: 'Frog from Hell' that ate baby dinosaurs

18 February 2008

Roger Highfield, 'Daily Telegraph' A squat beachball sized toad dubbed 'the frog from Hell' has been found in Madagascar, where it it once may have snacked on baby dinosaurs and other small animals.

The 70 million year-old fossil frog is likened by researchers to a "slightly squashed beach-ball" and has been nicknamed Beelzebufo.

The discovery of the creature, of a kind once thought unique to South America, lends weight to a new theory that Madagascar, India and South America were once linked together into a supercontinent until late in the Age of Dinosaurs, around 65 million years ago. …

Prof Susan Evans, who studied Beezebufo with Dr Marc Jones at UCL says: "This frog, a relative of today's Horned frogs, would have been the size of a slightly squashed beach-ball, with short legs and a big mouth. If it shared the aggressive temperament and 'sit-and-wait' ambush tactics of living Horned toads, it would have been a formidable predator on small animals.

"Its diet would most likely have consisted of insects and small vertebrates like lizards, but it's not impossible that Beelzebufo might even have munched on hatchling orjuvenile dinosaurs." …

"Our discovery of a frog strikingly different from today's Madagascan frogs, and akin to the Horned frogs previously considered endemic to South America, lends weight to the controversial idea that Madagascar, the Indian subcontinent and South America were linked well into the Late Cretaceous.

"It also suggests that the initial spread of such beasts began earlier than that proposed by recent estimates," says Prof Evans. …