Giant Extinct Frog Could Eat Dinosaurs

Posted: Sep 23 2017, 2:36pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 23 2017, 2:39pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Giant Extinct Frog could Eat Dinosaurs
Credit: Scientific Reports

Researchers estimate the bite force of a giant extinct frog with the help of a modern-day device

There are more than 6,000 frog species in the world and most of them have weak jaws that don’t contribute much catching prey. However, a giant extinct frog that lived around 70 million years ago in Madagascar was a notable exception. The frog species from Cretaceous period had jaws strong enough to eat small dinosaurs.

The frog, named Beelzebufo, was the largest frog ever to live on Earth and it was remarkably similar to modern day Ceratophrys or South American horned frogs in many ways. Small horned frogs with head width of about 4.5cm can bite with a force of about 30 newtons (N). Given that the bite force increases with head and body size, the large horned frogs with a head width of up to 10 cm would have a bite force of almost 500 N, which is comparable to reptiles and mammals with a similar head.

When researchers used the criteria to estimate the bite force of Beelzebufo, they found that the extinct frog may have had a bite force of up to 2200 N. This is equal to many ferocious predators including wolves and female tigers.

“At this bite force, Beelzebufo would have been capable of subduing the small and juvenile dinosaurs that shared its environment.” Dr Marc Jones, researcher at the University of Adelaide's School of Biological Sciences said in a statement.

This finding was made possible by a custom-made force transducer, a device used for measuring bite force. When an animal bites the device, it accurately measures the applied force.

“This is the first time bite force has been measured in a frog. And, speaking from experience, horned frogs have quite an impressive bite, and they tend not to let go. The bite of a large Beelzebufo would have been remarkable, definitely not something I would want to experience firsthand.” Professor Kristopher Lappin, Professor of Biological Sciences at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona said.

Horned frogs not only have strong jaws but they also possess large sticky tongues. They are characterized by their round shape and large mouth, which make them look extremely unusual.

Researcher Sean Wilcox from University of California Riverside says. “Many people find horned frog hilarious because of their big heads and fat, round bodies. Yet these predators have given us a rare opportunity to learn something more about the biology of a huge extinct frog.”

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