The scientists measured bite force using a custom-made instrument called a "force transducer", which establishes the force applied to two leather-coated plates as an animal bites them.
Some other name that the Beelzebufo have the devil frog, devil toad, and frog from hell.
Scaling that bite force up for frogs with mouths around 10 centimetres gets a force of 500 Newtons, or around 50 kilograms (110 pounds). This allows the frog, once it has captured its prey with its sticky tongue, to tightly secure the wriggling food between its mighty jaws, clamping down and not letting go.
Scientists shed new light on the ancient amphibian - which lived roughly 68 million year ago in what is now Madagascar - while studying the bite force of South American horned frogs from the genus Ceratophrys.
The frogs of today do not exactly inspire horror stories, but a certain species of horned frogs in South America, the Ceratophrys cranwelli, are very aggressive and can eat animals that are the same size as they are. After scaling that power by comparing bite force to body size, they concluded that larger horned frogs found in the lowland forests of South America would have a bite force of almost 500 newtons.
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Credit: K. Lappin et al. A scaling experiment, comparing bite force with head and body size, calculated that large horned frogs that are found in the tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests of South America, with a head width of up to 10 cm, would have a bite force of nearly 500 N. This is comparable to reptiles and mammals with a similar head size. Next to the small "Pac-Man" frogs, the extinct devil frog was gargantuan, with a body measuring about 16 inches (41 cm) long and a head reaching about 6 inches (15 cm) in width.
Following the scaling model, the researchers predicted that the biting power of Beelzebufo would be about 2,200 Newtons, which can be compared to the strength in the jaws of modern predators such as tigers and wolves.
This means - assuming the estimation is correct - that the giant frog would have feasted on things far larger than small reptiles and insects, likely including young and small dinosaurs as well as crocodiles.
The findings were published online yesterday (Sept. 20) in the journal Nature: Scientific Reports. This is how it was described by lead author Kristopher Lappin, professor of biological sciences at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (#Cal Poly Pomona).
"At this bite force, Beelzebufo would have been capable of subduing the small and juvenile dinosaurs that shared its environment", said Jones. "Definitely not something I would want to experience firsthand".