2/19/2008

Scientists find 'Devil Toad' fossil


Beelzebufo ampinga facing off against the largest known living Malagasy frog, Mantydactylus ampinga.A frog the size of a bowling ball, with heavy armor and teeth, lived among dinosaurs millions of years ago — intimidating enough that scientists who unearthed its fossils dubbed the beast Beelzebufo, or Devil Toad.

But its size — 10 pounds and 16 inches long — isn't the only curiosity. Researchers discovered the creature's bones in Madagascar. Yet it seems to be a close relative of normal-sized frogs who today live half a world away in South America, challenging assumptions about ancient geography.

The discovery, led by paleontologist David Krause at New York's Stony Brook University, was published Monday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This frog, if it has the same habits as its living relatives in South America, was quite voracious," Krause said. "It's even conceivable that it could have taken down some hatchling dinosaurs."

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