Inventive illustration of a large
toad (© Richard Svensson)

At this time is the 14th anniversary
of my ShukerNature weblog’s official launch (20 January 2009), so now, virtually 800
ShukerNature articles later, right here is my newest one, to mark this auspicious event,
and impressed by a captivating information report that I learn only a few hours in the past.

The information report in query (which could be
accessed straight right here)
reveals the current discovery and seize in Queensland, Australia, of a very
gigantic specimen of cane toad Bufo marinus
(=Rhinella marina). Weighing a
colossal 2.7 kg/6 lb (six occasions that of regular specimens), and dubbed Toadzilla, it
would be the largest toad of any sort ever formally recorded (however maintain my use
of the phrase ‘formally’ in thoughts, for causes to be revealed right here shortly).

Native to South America and acknowledged to
be the world’s largest toad species, the cane toad was launched into
Australia through the Nineteen Thirties in a bid to regulate sugar cane-devouring beetles
right here. Alarmingly, nonetheless, it in the end proved itself as severe an ecological
blight as its supposed prey. That is due not solely to its pores and skin being poisonous but additionally to numerous toxin-secreting glands on its again and particularly to the pair of very sizeable parotoid glands
sited on its warty pores and skin’s shoulders, which secrete a potent cardiac toxin known as bufotoxin  – this extremely deleterious suite of secretions collectively inflicting
something trying to eat one in every of these toads to die a swift and normally
sure demise, together with Australia’s varied native (and largely endangered)
marsupial carnivores, and even creatures as massive as goannas (monitor lizards).
To make issues worse, this toad additionally actively preys upon the smaller marsupial
carnivore species, such because the shrew-like marsupial mice.

Furthermore, due to its very efficient deterrent
towards potential attackers, the cane toad has no predators right here, inflicting its
numbers to swell out of all proportion and thereby posing an more and more
extreme risk to this island continent’s distinctive indigenous fauna.

cane toad, with its deadly pair of shoulder-sited toxin-secreting parotoid glands clearly
seen (© Froggydarb/Wikipedia –
CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Having mentioned that, in current occasions one native
Australian species, the black-necked ibis Threskiornis
, has seemingly conceived a outstanding technique of side-stepping the cane
toad’s hitherto unassailable defence mechanism – these ibises have been seen throwing
toads within the air, which distresses them, thus inducing them to launch their pores and skin glands’ poisonous secretions, after which the ibises wipe the toads on moist grass or rinse
them in a water supply, washing off the poison from the toads’ pores and skin, after which
repeat your complete course of, till the toads’ glands and pores and skin are ultimately
drained of toxin, after which the ibises swallow the toads complete, with no ensuing
unwell results.

Sure different canny avians, similar to crows
and hawks, have discovered to flip the toads onto their again after which devour their
inner organs, leaving their deadly shoulder and again glands untouched. Who mentioned that
birds are bird-brained?! Extra info on toad-tackling birds right here.

Anyway, as famous above, the cane toad is
formally the world’s largest species of toad. Unofficially, nonetheless, there
could also be motive to query this assumption, judging a minimum of from sure
intriguing stories contained within the cryptozoological archives.

The native Indian peoples inhabiting
varied tropical valleys within the Chilean and Peruvian Andes regularly report
the existence there of a greatly-feared, big type of toad known as the sapo de
loma (‘toad of the hills’). It’s mentioned to be lethal toxic and able to
preying upon creatures as massive as medium-sized birds and rodents.


specimen of Blomberg’s big toad Bufo
(© Markus Bühler)

Science has but to look at a sapo de
loma, however as I’ve identified in my e-book The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals
(2012) and its two predecessors (The New Zoo, 2002, and The Misplaced Ark,
1993), there’s a main precedent for locating batrachian behemoths in South
America. Rolf Blomberg (1912-1996) was a Swedish explorer, photographer, and
author, and in 1950 he was instrumental in bringing to scientific consideration a
hitherto-undescribed species of big toad native to southwestern Colombia. He
achieved this vital feat by capturing an enormous specimen there that he
introduced again with him to his house in neighbouring Ecuador, and which grew to become the
kind specimen of this spectacular new species – duly dubbed Bufo blombergi in
his honour a 12 months later. Blomberg’s big toad (aka the Colombian big toad) can
attain a complete snout-to-vent size of as much as 10 in, which is bigger even than
that of the heavier, extra massively-built cane toad.

By the way, German cryptozoological
correspondent Markus Bühler has knowledgeable me that whereas looking via a
collection of yearbooks from the Nineteen Seventies for Stuttgart’s Wilhelma Zoo, he seen
that the 1971 quantity talked about the prospect start on the zoo some years earlier
of hybrids between a feminine B. blombergi and a male B. marinus.
They have been apparently indistinguishable from the paternal species, however exhibited
unusually sturdy progress – little doubt a results of hybrid vigour. Allowing for
that they have been crossbreeds of the world’s longest toad species and the world’s
largest toad species, it’s a nice pity that the e-book didn’t comprise any
further info regarding them, as a result of they need to absolutely have had the
potential to turn into veritable mega-toads!

In any occasion, conscious of the comparatively
belated scientific discovery of Blomberg’s big toad, it could be rash to rule
out totally the chance {that a} comparable species nonetheless awaits discovery
in distant, rarely-visited Andean valleys not too far to the south of the latter
species’ distribution vary.

Furthermore, there are additionally claims among the many
Mapuche individuals referring to a supposedly immense species of toad indigenous to numerous
lakes, lagoons, and irrigation channels in southern Chile and southwestern
Argentina. Often called the arumco (‘huge water frog’) in Argentina and the vilú in
Chile, it’s mentioned to measure as much as 3 ft lengthy. One such creature, dwelling in a
lake, seemingly devoured a horse that was trying to wade throughout, however
whether or not this story is true or merely native folklore or hyperbole stays


newspaper article printed on 11 August 1987, p. 11, relating to the thriller Wuhan
big toads (or frogs?)
please click on image to enlarge for studying functions (supply unknown to me regardless of many searches for info
regarding this text – reproduced right here on a strictly non-commercial Truthful Use
foundation for academic/assessment functions solely)

Nonetheless, it does remind me of a
comparable report that emerged from China. A group of 9 scientists from
Peking (now Beijing) College, led by 58-year-old biologist Prof. Chen Mok
Chun, travelled to some very massive, deep mountain swimming pools (one in every of which is called
Bao Fung Lake) close to Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province throughout August 1987 so as
to movie the realm and its wildlife. Whereas organising their tv cameras,
nonetheless, they have been allegedly handled to an exhibition of native wildlife far
past something that even their wildest imaginations – or worst nightmares –
might have conceived.

In full view of the scientists, three
enormous creatures supposedly rose up out of one in every of these swimming pools and moved in direction of
the pool’s edge nearest to them. Their shocked eyewitnesses likened these
grotesque monsters to massive toads or frogs, with greyish-white skins, mouths
that have been mentioned to be about 6 ft extensive, and eyes “greater than rice bowls”.

In keeping with Prof. Chen, they silently
watched the scientists for a short while. Then one in every of them opened its enormous mouth
and swiftly prolonged an unlimited tongue, estimated at 20 ft lengthy, which it
wrapped across the cameras on tripods. Because it promptly engulfed the tripods, its
two companions let forth some eldritch screams, after which all three monsters
submerged, disappearing from view. The delayed-shock response skilled by
the scientists was so nice that one in every of them dropped to his knees and was
bodily sick, in accordance with Chinese language stories, summarised in varied abroad
media accounts, together with an unidentified American newspaper report included right here
(if anybody can determine its supply, please let me know, thanks!)

This incident appears so totally unimaginable
that one would absolutely really feel justified in dismissing it totally as a hoax of the sensationalist grocery store tabloid sort – have been
it not for the truth that the eyewitnesses in query have been all skilled
scientists, together with a significant identify in Chinese language organic analysis, and all from
the nation’s main college. Furthermore, stories of such creatures being
sighted on this identical locality by native fishermen date again a minimum of so far as


included right here for no motive in anyway aside from I occur to love it’s a weird sculpture
from the late 1800s of a hook-beaked, warty-skinned, rabbit-eared frog – or toad!
(© Markus Bühler)

For extra info regarding
mega-toads, to not point out mega-frogs too (and click on right here
for one such instance of the latter class of amphibian cryptid as documented
by me on ShukerNature), be sure you take a look at my e-book A
Manifestation of Monsters

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