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Scientists Find 'Devil Toad' Fossil

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the flies-beware dept.

Science 38

An anonymous reader writes "A new type of frog the size of a bowling ball, with heavy armor and teeth, that lived among dinosaurs millions of years ago has been discovered. It was intimidating enough that scientists who unearthed its fossils dubbed the beast Beelzebufo, or Devil Toad."

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Does this mean... (5, Funny)

aurb (674003) | more than 6 years ago | (#22475846)

... that robot devil and the hipno toad have the same ancestor?

Re:Does this mean... (1)

IgLou (732042) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476398)

That would go against intelligent design. He clearly created robot devil and hipno toad after he planted the fossil but before he sent Bender back to earth. It makes perfect sense really...

Oblig. (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22475856)

Is this battletoads?

I for one... (1)

Tanmi-Daiow (802793) | more than 6 years ago | (#22475886)

I for one welcome our new Devil Toad overlords...

Re:I for one... (2, Informative)

MindKata (957167) | more than 6 years ago | (#22475998)

"I for one etc..."

Don't worry, its dead ... as in an Ex-Toad ... he's not restin', so you can't wake him up ... This Toad is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e' rests in peace! If they hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'history! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-TOAD!!

... I thought this would be better than saying something about "I for one" etc.. ;)

Re:I for one... (2, Funny)

kie (30381) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476098)

you mean the toad croaked!

Re:I for one... (2, Funny)

PitViper401 (619163) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476140)

You sir, are a froggin' genius.

Re:I for one... (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476564)

Well.. just to be on the safe side, I for one welcome our new zombie demon toad overlords

Re:I for one... (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478916)

Ok, this is getting hard to swallow. But it wouldn't be for our new ROBOTIC zombie demon toad overlords.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22486240)

Netcraft confirms it: Daemon Toad is dead.

Etymological considerations... (3, Interesting)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22475902)

Wouldn't " beelzebufo" mean, " Lord of the Toads" in some unholy fusion of greek and latin? Personally I think that's a cooler name anyway.

Re:Etymological considerations... (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476584)

Isaac Asimov maintained in "The Up-To-Date Sorcerer" that a scientist should have "a proper scorn for the niceties of classical philology." Thus the "amatogenic cortical principle" as named by Professor Johns.

Re:Etymological considerations... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476604)

The toad in TFA looks like Jabba the Hut. Hence I have tagged this article jabbathetoad :)

Re:Etymological considerations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22476890)

It might, if Beelzebub were Greek... "Baal Zebub" is Semitic, not Greek. Unfortunately, I don't think the "ze" part means anything on its own, but it is short for José in Portuguese. So let's call it a Hebrew-Portuguese-Latin hybrid for "Lord Joe Toad."

Re:Etymological considerations... (1)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22477142)

ze == this in Hebrew. Not sure if that helps you at all...

Re:Etymological considerations... (2, Informative)

ArieKremen (733795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22477522)

while "ze" means "this" in Hebrew, the word "zebub" is wrongly transcribed from "zevuv", which means "fly", and is supported by [] .

Re:Etymological considerations... (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22481246)

No, because Baalzebub doesn't come from Greek or Latin, but rather from Akkadian, named for the god Ba'al. This is frequently mis-cited as the Hebrew word "Bel" meaning lord, owner or master; such is incorrect, as the Hebrew word is simply an importation of the name of the Akkadian god. The word means "Ba'al of the Flies," and would be interpreted much as we would interpret "Apollo of the Sun". Neither Greek nor Latin have anything to do with this, other than the frog-namers' inability to stick to one language when hacking together a word. Bufo is the only trace of either language involved.

Re:Etymological considerations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22567118)

Definitely not a Greek word. Beelzebub is the hebraicization of the ancient Ca'ananite god, Ba'al Thubab. They had plenty of Ba'als, as it were, this one happened to be associated with flies (hence: Beelzebub->Lord of the Flies). The Greek word is "diabolos"-from which the word "diabolical" is derived and, less obviously, "devil".
It actually annoyed me when I read what must have been the reporter's surmise. Don't the reporters at Reuters do RESEARCH?!, or is that lost on them.

Staggering lack of any real info (4, Interesting)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476082)

I've done a quick Google search and none of the sites have anything more than the rather superficial msnbc link. Even the UCL page [] doesn't really give much. What it breaks down to is
  • Fosil frog found in Madagascar
  • It's big - about the size of a bowling ball and estimated at 10lb - or around 5Kg for scientists
  • It's not like modern Madagascan frogs but more like South American ones which raises issues about lineage and land masses at the relevant (non specified - and why not - millions of years ago isn't very precise) era
I guess they're saving the real info up for the PNAS [] paper.

Re:Staggering lack of any real info (1)

Zebraheaded (1229302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476268)

Yeah, until the paper actually goes up, it just comes off as half-assed. If I was working off just the news reports, I'd say "You want a land bridge between South America and Madagascar? It's called Africa. Oh, those frogs aren't related to these? So what...maybe you just havent found 'beezlebubo' fossils on Africa yet."

I'm going to have to read this article because I really don't see how they came to this conclusion. It would have been quite plausible for these frogs to be spread across South America, Africa and Madagascar/India...then once all three seperated, these frogs won out in SA, they lost out to other frogs in Africa, and they lasted a bit longer in Madagascar.

You've got to assume poor conclusions weren't made because there's no way the study would have been published in PNAS if they had...but wow, this might just be horrible reporting.

Re:Staggering lack of any real info (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22488030)

Look, go here: []

Put "70" in the "Age to be reconstructed (My)" box. That's about the age of the Madagascar fossils -- 70Ma/70 million years ago, in the latest part of the Cretaceous Period. Notice that Africa and South America are well separated, as is Madagascar from either India on one side or Africa on the other. See the problem? Madagascar is an island by then, and swimming to/from S. America isn't an option for frogs. So, how is this explained?

Put "120" in the same box and regenerate the map. 120 Ma is approximately the time when the ocean starting to form between Africa and South America really began to widen. You'll notice that at this time Madagascar was still connected to India and Antarctica, and via those continents, a frog could, by a circuitous route, hop from S. America all the way to Madagascar (obviously a single frog wouldn't do this, but over many generations they'll spread into any environments that are suitable and that are connected). A little older (say, 140Ma or 150Ma, which is oldest Cretaceous or latest Jurassic), and the route becomes more direct (S. America-Africa-> directly to Madagascar, and like your suggestion, they could have survived longer on Madagascar compared to mainland Africa, where they haven't been found yet).

Finally, try "100", which is somewhere in between. You'll find that the S. Atlantic between Africa and S. America has widened, Madagascar and India have started to separate from Antarctica, and are starting to become isolated. No more frogs hopping across.

So, the implications are in the form of about 3 hypotheses: 1) either the ancestors of Beezelbufo hopped across earlier, before the breakup, and haven't yet been discovered in Madagascar or places in between, 2) isn't really related to the S. American frogs it resembles, or 3) the timing of separation between Madagascar and the neighboring continents is different from the current model. These hypotheses all make predictions that can be tested out with more research (e.g., for #1, the obvious thing is to look for older relatives of Beezelbufo, and, for your suggestion, the obvious other place to look for them is mainland Africa in Cretaceous rocks, for #3, look more carefully at the tectonic history in the region).

You're right that the popular publishing should have made things a little clearer -- a couple of maps and enumeration of some of the options would be all it would take -- but science reporting is often rather deficient. The information is out there if you go looking, but it does take reading the original paper or some general familiarity with paleogeography, which is a bit of an obscure subject.

Re:Staggering lack of any real info (1)

lostsatellite82 (1153629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22477052)

which raises issues about lineage and land masses

While your points are well made, there's something I don't understand.

What does frog lineage and land masses have to do with African Swallows [] ? And more important, what would be the air-speed velocity of said swallow ladened with a bowling ball sized toad?

Re:Staggering lack of any real info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479048)

"It's not like modern Madagascan frogs but more like South American ones which raises issues about lineage and land masses at the relevant (non specified - and why not - millions of years ago isn't very precise) era"

It's from the Late Cretaceous Period. The relevant issue is the breakup between South America and Africa (i.e. opening of the Southern Atlantic), which culminated in a narrow ocean between them by about the middle part of the Cretaceous. Frogs could not easily cross such a barrier (most of them promptly die if they try to cross salt water), implying that if the Madagascar ones in the Late Cretaceous were related to the South American ones that they resemble, there may have been a land connection maintained between those two areas until later in the Cretaceous than people expected. The most likely connection would be through Antarctica, which had a much warmer climate than now during the Cretaceous Period.

Artist rendering (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22476102)

It's definitely going to make us rethink where things came from. I found an artists rendering of what it probably looked like. here []

More info (2, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476134)

Another picture [] .

Apparently they sounded like Brian Blessed.

Guess it wasn't tagged 'notthebest'? (3, Informative)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476190)

Why'd they approve this submission, instead of the one with all the details I read in the Firehose yesterday?

Paleontologist David Krause and his team have discovered the remains of a 'Devil Toad' [] that was 4.5 kg (10 lbs) in weight and 41 cm (16 in) long. The bones of 'Beelzebufo' -- a combination of the Greek word for devil and the Latin word for toad -- were found in Madagascar and dated to the late Cretaceous period, about 70 million years ago. This is puzzling because Beelzebufo is actually a relative of South American horned frogs (Ceratophrys), rather than the Golaith frogs of West Africa which are almost as big as it. They take this as evidence that Madagascar was still linked to South America via a land bridge in the late Cretaceous, not fully separated as had been thought and speculate that the two might have been linked by a then-warmer Antarctica.

it wears heavy armor? (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476214)

So it has at least one level in fighter maybe duskblade?

In soviet Russia... (2, Funny)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476236)

Toad licks YOU!

So what happens . . . ? (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476748)

If they do a Jurassic Park on us with this toad?

Lord that thing could eat a cat, or the entire Toy Class at the Westminster Dog show.

Cuisine (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478654)

"Lord that thing could eat a cat, or the entire Toy Class at the Westminster Dog show."

Wrong direction on the food chain - think Super Jumbo Frog's Legs.


Re:So what happens . . . ? (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22480088)

Lord that thing could eat a cat, or the entire Toy Class at the Westminster Dog show.
Finally, an idea that will get the majority of people, and all stereotypical rednecks, to support cloning.

Not a toad (2, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#22476830)

Based on the article, this is not a toad at all, but a frog. It seems to be only the writer at Scientific American who considers this a toad.

Re:Not a toad (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22477124)

Based on the article, this is not a toad at all
Neither is this toad [] . Your point?

The Fighting Devil Toads! (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22477048)

This animal really needs to become some university's mascot - maybe one with a politically incorrect mascot...

Obligatory part duex (0, Redundant)

sanjacguy (908392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22477646)

In Soviet Russia, Devil Toad fossilizes YOU!

It takes a lick'n (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22480976)

I bet some grad student licked the fossils when they found out it was a toad.

Strange creatures lately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22485132)

"We all know that strange creatures are on the increase-- but beware! We do no know from whence they came!"


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