ANCIENT ‘PAC-MAN’ FROG MAY HAVE DINED ON DINOSAURS
An international team of biologists has found that Beelzebufo, a giant frog that lived about 68 million years ago in what is now Madagascar, would have been capable of eating small dinosaurs.
They reached the conclusion by scaling up the bite force of South American horned frogs from the living genus Ceratophrys – Beelzebufo’s closing living relative. Horned frogs are often called Pac-Man frogs thanks to their round shape and large, wide mouth.
“Unlike the vast majority of frogs which have weak jaws and typically consume small prey, horned frogs ambush animals as large as themselves – including other frogs, snakes, and rodents. And their powerful jaws play a critical role in grabbing and subduing the prey,” said the University of Adelaide’s Dr Marc Jones.
The researchers measured the bite forces of horned frogs using a force transducer. This is a device that accurately measures the force applied to two plates covered with leather when an animal bites them. They were able to determine that Beelzebufo may have had a bite force comparable to wolves or female tigers – not too shabby for an amphibian weighing just 5kg. This means it would’ve been capable of eating small dinosaurs.
“This is the first time bite force has been measured in a frog,” said Prof Kristopher Lappin of California State Polytechnic University. “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 first hand.”
South American horned frogs (inset) are Beelzebufo’s closest living relative, and can be kept as pets – should you choose to