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Real Or Not, Coleman Frog Lives On

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 31st, 2007

Coleman Frog

Nine-year-old Noah Blanchard looks upon the stuffed Coleman frog. Rob Blanchard/CanWest News Service.

 

The Coleman Frog was so-called because of its owner, Fred Coleman. The huge specimen is being mentioned again as a tourist attraction to view, if you happen to be visiting Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Tell me, would you want this artifact in your local museum?

At 19 kilograms, the Coleman frog is a monster. Supposedly nurtured to its humongous size on a diet of whey and whisky in the 1800s, the stuffed beast occupies a place of honour in Fredericton’s York-Sunbury Museum, where it is a star attraction.
“People come from all over the world to see it,” said Penny Pacey, the museum’s manager.
Museum staff swear the enormous amphibian is real. Nor is Ms. Pacey alone in her assertions of the grotesque green hopper’s validity.
Tim Andrew, a local “frog expert” and retired deputy minister of agriculture who has studied the origins of the frog for 13 years, recently defended the oft-maligned creature at a public talk at the museum.
Real or not, the Coleman frog — named for its first owner, Fred Coleman — is a true museum piece with a terrific provenance, Ms. Pacey insists. “He is a well-known piece of Fredericton folklore, an artifact dating back well over 100 years and world-famous.”
According to local legend, Coleman first encountered the frog while fishing in Fredericton’s Killarney Lake.
The frog hopped into Coleman’s boat, got a taste for whey and whiskey, and started watching for the owner of the Barker House Hotel whenever he fished thereafter.
The whey diet strengthened the frog’s bones, enabling it to grow to its massive size without collapsing the way other frogs do, Mr. Andrew said.
“You’re familiar with seeing dead frogs? They’re generally flat and the reason is quite simple, as something doubles in size its mass increases by a factor of eight.”
According to Mr. Andrew, the weight of the skin causes the bone structure of most frogs to cave in.
After its death, Coleman sent the frog to Maine to be stuffed. For a number of years, the stuffed animal sat in the hotel’s saloon, where patrons delighted in stubbing their cigars out on the abused amphibian.
One of Coleman’s descendants donated the frog to the museum when it reappeared in a Fredericton attic in the 1950s.
At one point the frog was sent to the Canadian Conservation Institute for work to repair its burn marks.
“There are allegations it’s a phony,” Mr. Andrew said of the frog, which has been featured on Discovery Channel.
David Green, director of the Redpath Museum at Montreal’s McGill University and a curator of vertebrates, laughed when he heard of the Coleman frog. “This is all nonsense, you know.”
Mr. Green said a diet of whisky would kill the frog and contended the only reason frogs are flat is because they get squashed. “If you run over them with cars, it tends to flatten them out quite a bit.”
The world’s largest frogs are goliaths. Found in Central Africa, goliaths are about 30 centimetres in length.
“I don’t suppose we’ll ever put the controversy to rest,” Mr. Andrew said. “It was suggested doing DNA testing on it, but I think we’re reluctant to disturb the peace of a stuffed beast that’s been around quite happily for 123 years now.” by Charles Mandel, CanWest News Service, “Croaks or hoax? Giant N.B. frog stirs controversy,” , July 30, 2007.

DNA sampling? X-Rays? No touching the frog. The mystery continues….

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


15 Responses to “Real Or Not, Coleman Frog Lives On”

  1. Terry W. Colvin responds:

    Fortunately frog falls are of the smaller versions.

  2. Loren Coleman responds:

    Please do not leave comments about another blog’s topic at this or other blogs’ comment sections. Such comments will be deleted.

    Any questions about technical problems or other off-topic matters, please write: editor@cryptomundo.com

    Thank you.

  3. Lykaon responds:

    I’m no zoologist or frog expert, but nothing about the frog pictured here looks real.

    His eyes aren’t froglike, his skin isn’t froglike.

    I grew up near Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas. This looks about as real as their “life-size” dinosaur models.

  4. crypto-hunter465 responds:

    I agree with Lykaon, doesn’t look real. But I’m no expert.

    But if it is real, a very well preserved specimen.

  5. mystery_man responds:

    I won’t comment too much on whether a frog could ever get this big, but I do not think that even a truly freakishly large specimen of any sort of giant frog would be capable of getting this big no matter what you fed it. But even supposing a frog did get this big, I am highly skeptical of the cause being a diet of whiskey. How many humans for instance do you see getting huge like that on a diet of whiskey? I do not think merely feeding any animal whiskey would likely amp up its size to beyond its biological limits. Also, I am no expert on taxidermy, but if that is a real specimen, it does not seem to be too good a job. It looks rather fake to me. Interesting little yarn, though. I’m assuming the name Coleman is just a coincidence, Loren?

  6. DARHOP responds:

    Look’s like paper mache to me…

  7. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Well, granted, taxidermy from over a hundred years ago wasn’t up to the same high standards we expect today, with our fiberglass forms and plastic/glass eyes, but, yes, I have to agree this is probably a gaffe.

  8. mrsatan responds:

    Feeding a frog whiskey would kill it. Also look at how extremely fake that frog looks. It would be cool if it was real, but the story sounds so bogus that it isn’t funny.

  9. Remobec responds:

    I don’t think it’s possible to tell if it’s real based on the quality of its skin and eyes. Taxonomy has changed a lot over the years, and given this frog’s history, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been painted and varnished and all other kinds of weird things.

    Don’t know if it’s real, but I wouldn’t believe a report of its validity or not based on the quality of the skin and eyes.

  10. Lethal responds:

    Really cool. This is in a museum from where I live. I didn’t think anything from around here would show up on Cryptomundo! We always have the Dungarven Whooper though, (most people say it’s a Black Panther).

    I remember seeing this when I was young. I really don’t know if it’s real or not but going by looks, it sure doesn’t look like it. As others have said though, taxonomy has changed allot from back then.

    Everyone at the museum swore it was real of course when I visited, but who knows. I’ve heard of other places around here that supposedly had very large frogs, but I’ve never seen any for myself and you know how stories are sometimes.

  11. coelacanth1938 responds:

    Finding out if there were any frogs in the fossil record that were ever that large would be a good way to determine if a frog that size was possible.

  12. mystery_man responds:

    Well, I suppose a DNA test would be the only way to put things to rest, but it doesn’t seem as though the museum is willing to do that unfortunately. I do think that a person who would claim as real that a steady diet of whiskey propelled this frog to this size is likely a type prone to telling tall tales and perhaps someone who would construct a gaffe. I would also think that maybe the man’s own steady diet of whiskey could have helped influence the course of events. A DNA test I do not think would be such a big deal and would be a lot more sensible and scientifically useful than not wanting to “disturb the peace of a stuffed beast that has been around quite happily for 123 years”. Maybe there is the possibility that the museum knows it may in fact be fake and do not want to dispel the enduring mystery surrounding the frog by having it be proven.

  13. schreiberosa responds:

    In my younger days I was a circus performer. My family and I trouped up in Canada on Al Stencell’s Martin & Downs Circus in 1982-83. He told me about the Coleman Frog and how he tried to lease it for his show’s sideshow. He claimed it was obviously faked and looked to him like it was made of paper mache or some kind of plaster. There was also a write up on it in an issue of Fate magazine in the last few years.

  14. Mnynames responds:

    I remember reading about it. Very cool, if true. A possible take on the frog above is that you may have a Napoleon’s Dagger situation here. This is an antique dealer’s term for something that was once real “My ancestor was given this dagger by Napoleon”, but has been replaced over time “Except the scabbard was lost by a grandchild, so he got a new one, and then the blade rusted so, my great, great grandfather had a new one put in, and then the crossbar tarnished so his son had that replaced, etc.” until little, if anything, of the original remains. Perhaps beneath all that papier mache you might still find some moldy bones…or maybe they were replaced by a caretaker by an armature in 1964…

  15. AtomicMrEMonster responds:

    mystery_man:

    Maybe there is the possibility that the museum knows it may in fact be fake and do not want to dispel the enduring mystery surrounding the frog by having it be proven.

    In my opinion, you’ve hit the nail on the head. They’d have nothing to lose and everything to gain if the frog got DNA tested and was found to be real. It’d easily breat a goliath frog in the size department. However, getting it to be proven as a fake would kill interest in the exhibit; after all, who wants to see a fake, paper mache frog? Their cheekiness over the frog is (at least in my mind) very similar to sideshow operators’ speils over gaffes.

    There’s also the fact that we’re supposed to believe that the frog’s whey-heavy diet strengthened its bones so it could get that big. The thing is, whey is a milk product and frogs lack the glands associated with milk-drinking mammals. It’s highly unlikely a frog would seek out milk. I linked to something like that regarding reptiles in a comment on the Tatzelworm paper that got posted awhile back. However, this is easily testable: grab some frogs, a whey recipe, and milk (along with some whiskey and junebugs)…



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