Image: Wikimedia Commons

A giant amphibian that lived about 70 million years ago in Madagascar will forever change the way you think of frogs. The so-called “devil frog” had a bite so powerful, it may have been able to snack on small dinosaurs.

Weighing about 10 pounds and growing up to 16 inches long, Beelzebufo ampinga was likely the largest frog to have ever walked the Earth, according to National Geographic. And new research published in Scientific Reports says they may have had the bite to match.

While it’s impossible to study the now extinct creatures in real life, scientists estimated their bite force by studying their modern relatives — South American horned frogs from the genus Ceratophrys.


Image: Mike Baird via Flickr

Most frog species have relatively weak jaws and tend not to bite that often, but not so for South American horned frogs. Known for their comically large heads and the wide mouths that have earned them the moniker “Pacman frog,” these aggressive croakers pack a powerful punch.

Using their incredibly strong jaws, they can capture and immobilize their victims and are capable of eating prey their own size, like other frogs, lizards, snakes, birds and rodents.

The scientists found that small horned frogs, with heads about 5 inches wide, have a bite force of about 30 Newtons. From there, they estimated that larger horned frogs, with heads about two times that size, have a bite force of nearly 500 Newtons — which they say feel like 13 gallons of water being balanced on your fingertip.

Scaling up, the researchers say their giant cousin Beelzebufo would have had a bite of up to 2200 Newtons. For comparison, that’s in the range of adult lions and tigers!

Add this to the list of prehistoric creatures we’re glad we never met.


Reconstruction: Evans S, Groenke J, Jones M, Turner A, Krause D – Evans S, Groenke J, Jones M, Turner A, Krause D, Wikimedia