Plants and Animals

What's The Truth Behind This "13-Pound Monster Frog" Photo?

On your social media strolls last weekend, you may have seen photographs that appear to show a monster-sized, 5.8-kilogram (13-pound) bullfrog being held up by a hunter in Batesville, Texas. They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, but does that hold true with regards to its native bullfrogs too?

The two images were shared by the South Texas Hunting Association Facebook page (below) along with the caption: “Wanted to share a monster bullfrog we got yesterday afternoon at one of our fishing ponds in South Texas ranch located in Batesville tx 13lb [5.8 kilograms] monster frog!!!” Since it was uploaded last Thursday, it’s been shared over 250,000 times and thousands of comments, most of which say something like “holy sh*t!”

Steve Lightfoot, a spokesman for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, told the Houston local news site Chron that the photograph is indeed the real deal and not a superimposed “photoshopped” image. However, he said that the photograph may be a tad misleading.  

“It’s not as bigly as it appears,” Lightfoot said. “[It’s an] optical illusion created by extending frog toward the camera – similar to what you see with fishermen holding up fish to make them appear larger. Still a big bullfrog, though.”

The image is actually the product of “forced perspective” – a visual illusion that makes objects appear larger than they actually are by messing with our perspective. It’s most likely the frog is attached to a long stick that is fairly close to the camera, much like the dog-sized rat that was reportedly found in London last year.

“This picture is going around with a story claiming it is a 13-lb Bullfrog. They don’t get that big – a forced perspective camera trick,” David Steen, an assistant research professor of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, tweeted on Saturday.

The largest frog on Earth is the Goliath frog, a 32-centimeter-long (12.6-inch-long) frog found in a relatively small area around Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea that can weigh up to 3.25 kilograms (7.17 pounds). American bullfrogs, on the other hand, typically grow as big as 15 centimeters (6 inches) in length and 0.6 kilograms (1.5 pounds) in weight. Needless to say, that’s still pretty impressive for a frog. 

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