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Science

Scientists Find 'Devil Toad' Fossil 38

Posted by samzenpus
from the flies-beware dept.
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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Scientists Find 'Devil Toad' Fossil

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  • Re:I for one... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MindKata (957167) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:40AM (#22475998) Journal
    "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.. ;)
  • by Xenographic (557057) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:52AM (#22476190) Homepage Journal
    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' [google.com] 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.
  • by ArieKremen (733795) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:14PM (#22477522)
    while "ze" means "this" in Hebrew, the word "zebub" is wrongly transcribed from "zevuv", which means "fly", and is supported by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beelzebub [wikipedia.org].
  • Info here (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @01:56PM (#22478134)
    http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=459006&cid=22476190 [slashdot.org]

    They picked the crappiest of the submissions this time, I fear.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @10:06AM (#22488030)
    Look, go here:

    http://www.odsn.de/odsn/services/paleomap/paleomap.html [www.odsn.de]

    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.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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