70 million years ago, things were different. Extinct species of frogs like the Beelzebufo ampinga grew to be ten pounds in size. Maybe they even ate the weakest dinosaurs.
A team of British, Australian and American scientists realized that these days, frogs generally arenâ€™t known for their jaw strength. But one species of South American horned frogs, Ceratophrys cranwelli, is especially aggressive and can eat animals its own size. So, thought the researchers, using the C. cranwelli frog as a model, maybe they could estimate how strong of a bite the extinct Beelzebufo had. If youâ€™re not familiar with the Beelzebufo, or â€œdevil frog,â€ it lived in Madagascar around 65 to 70 million years ago, and it was huge, according to a Nat Geo fact sheet. Scientists already thought that it ate some crazy stuff based on its size.
American Museum of Natural History, Bizarre, Golden Silk Orb-Weaver, Jacob Paul CambouÃ©, Madagascar, Natural History, Natural History, Spider Cloth
Spider cloth displayed at the American Museum of Natural History
“To produce this unique golden cloth, 70 people spent four years collecting golden orb spiders from telephone poles in Madagascar, while another dozen workers carefully extracted about 80 feet of silk filament from each of the arachnids. The resulting 11-foot by 4-foot textile is the only large piece of cloth made from natural spider silk existing in the world today.”
The project was modeled on the work of a Victorian-era French missionary, Jacob Paul CambouÃ©, who invented a machine to extract silk from up to 24 spiders at a time.
AMNH 3:29 video
Golden silk orb-weavers (Nephila madagascariensis)
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.