We’re marking this year's celebration of World Frog Day (20 March) by spotlighting five of the most remarkable record-breaking frogs.
For the first one, we’re stepping back into prehistory. "True frogs" were alive during the Early Jurassic, 199.6–175 million years ago. The largest frog ever is the "devil toad" (yes, taxonomically speaking it is a frog, despite its name!). Native to Madagascar, it was more than 40 cm (1 ft 3.7 in) long and lived around 70 million years ago.
In modern times, the largest frog is the African goliath frog. A specimen captured in April 1989 in Cameroon measured 36.83 cm (1 ft 2.5 in).
Adults of the species usually grow to around 30 cm (11.8 in) – similar to an adult rabbit, though with legs outstretched it can be more than double that. They can weigh up to 3.3 kg (7 lb 3 oz) – about the same as a newborn baby!
It would dwarf the smallest amphibian. Seen above squatting on a dime, Paedophryne amauensis measures between 7 mm (0.27 in) and 7.7 mm (0.3 in) long from snout to vent when fully grown.
This minuscule frog can be found (with extreme difficulty!) among the leaf litter on rainforest floors in Papua New Guinea. It is capable of jumping up to 30 times the length of its own body!
Frogs are an excellent indicator of an ecosystem’s overall health, and are helpful to humans too, feeding on potentially harmful insects such as mosquitoes, for example. But some of them can be lethal.
Found only in a small region on the Colombian Pacific coast, the golden poison-dart frog might look innocent, but can secrete sufficient toxin to kill 10 adult humans (or 20,000 mice!), making it the most poisonous frog.
Indigenous tribespeople sometimes coat their blow-darts with its toxin when hunting for game, such as monkeys. Despite its modest size – around 6 cm (2.7 in) – it’s also the largest poison-dart frog.
There are less violent ways of dissuading predators, of course. The smelliest species of frog is the Venezuelan skunk frog. When it feels threatened, the 6.2-cm-long (2.4-in) amphibian releases a secretion in its skin that contains the same stenchful organosulphur compound emitted by the striped skunk – the smelliest mammal.
Sadly, in the face of numerous threats – not least deforestation – frog populations have been declining for some time. But there are a whole range of excellent organizations tackling the problems head-on, from Save the Frogs! and Froglife to the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust.
What better way to get involved with World Frog Day than hopping online to find out what we can do to ensure the survival of these ancient animals?
Find out about more record-breaking animals in our records showcase