Dinosaurs are spotlight stealers. It's not as if we try to stop them. The entire Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous span of the Mesozoic is often called the Age of Dinosaurs, as if all other forms of life were B-listers or below. (And I admit I've done this as much as anyone.) But there is no world of dinosaurs without the various other species that existed during that time, including a little frog represented by a dozen lovely specimens.

Paleontologists Ke-Qin Gao and Jianye Chen have named the amphibian Genibatrachus basoshanensis. The roughly 125 million year old fossils found in Inner Mongolia look like X-ray views of frogs pinned to stone dissection boards. Looked at in detail, however, Ke-Qin and Jianye point out that Genibatrachus shows a series of features that associate it with other fossil frogs previously discovered in Spain and Brazil.

Among the many, many branches of the frog family tree - there are over 6,600 species alive today - Genibatrachus comes out as an archaic relative of frogs called pipanurans, a major group that includes everything from Surinam toads to poison dart frogs. More than that, Ke-Qin and Jianye write, the details of the fossil's frog spine, ribs, and hips add more detail to the subtle changes these amphibians went through between the Cretaceous and today. Not as imposing as a titanosaur, surely, but importance is not a matter of size alone.

Additional skeletons of Genibatrachus. Credit: Ke-Qin and Jianye 2017

Fossil Facts

Name: Genibatrachus baoshanensis

Meaning: Genibatrachus means "the Geni River frog", while baoshanensis is a reference to the town of Baoshan near where the fossils were found. 

Age: Cretaceous, around 125 million years ago.

Where in the world?: Inner Mongolia, China.

What sort of organism?: A frog.

Size: About 2.7 inches long for adults.

How much of the organism’s is known?: A dozen skeletons.


Ke-Qin, G., Jianye, C. 2017. A new crown-group frog (Amphibia, Anura) from the early Cretaceous of northeastern Inner Mongolia, China. American Museum Novitates. 3876: 1-39.

Previous Paleo Profiles:

The Light-Footed Lizard
The Maoming Cat
Knight’s Egyptian Bat
The La Luna Snake
The Rio do Rasto Tooth
Bob Weir's Otter
Egypt's Canine Beast
The Vastan Mine Tapir
Pangu's Wing
The Dawn Megamouth
The Genga Lizard
The Micro Lion
The Mystery Titanosaur
The Echo Hunter
The Lo Hueco Titan
The Three-Branched Cicada
The Monster of Minden
The Pig-Footed Bandicoot
Hayden's Rattlesnake Demon
The Evasive Ostrich Seer
The Paradoxical Mega Shark
The Tiny Beardogs
The Armored Fish King
North America's Pangolin
The Invisible-Tusked Elephant
The Mud Dragon
The Spike-Toothed Salmon
The Dream Coast Crocodile
Buriol's Robber
Ozimek's Flyer
The Northern Naustoceratopsian
The High Arctic Flyer
The Tomatillo From the End of the World
The Short-Faced Hyena
The Mighty Traveler from Egg Mountain
Keilhau's Ichthyosaur
Mexico's Ancient Horned Face
Mauricio Fernández's Plesiosaur
New Zealand's Giant Dawn Penguin
The Orange Sea Lion
Mongolia's Ginkgo Cousin