Largest frog species in over a century found in Africa

Picture: Supplied / North West University

Picture: Supplied / North West University

Published Mar 25, 2024


In an intriguing scientific discovery, Professor Louis du Preez and his team at the North-West University have announced the discovery of a newfound species of African bullfrog, named Pyxicephalus beytelli, marking the first discovery of its kind in over a century.

Spanning regions of northeastern Namibia, southern Angola, southwestern Zambia, and northwestern Botswana, this species has captivated herpetologists with its awe-inspiring size and unique characteristics.

Named in honour of the late Ben Beytell, an influential figure in Namibian wildlife conservation, Pyxicephalus beytelli boasts striking yellow and lime green hues adorned with blue spots and a distinctive white vertebral line running along its body.

The frog's most notable features are its formidable teeth, positioned in a sloped and backward manner, alongside prominent bony protrusions on its lower jaw, hinting at a powerful bite.

“Their teeth really stand out, and we are excited to learn more about their feeding habits. I can promise you that this frog has a big bite,” says Du Preez. Bullfrogs have a varied diet that includes mice, small birds, snakes, insects and even other frogs.

Professor Du Preez's encounter with the frog dates back 12 years ago in the Okavango, where he first sensed its uniqueness. It wasn't until a recent survey commissioned by the Namibian Nature Foundation that the species was officially recognised during a meticulous comparison with known bullfrog varieties.

The belated discovery of Pyxicephalus beytelli can be attributed to its remote habitat and the challenges associated with accessing these regions.

As frogs face increasing threats due to habitat destruction, understanding and safeguarding new species becomes paramount to preserving biodiversity.

"The more we know about a species, such as its location and range, the better we can protect it. It is only when we have caused the extinction of a species that we realise what we have lost," said Du Preez.