Photos of a Texas man holding a giant bullfrog have people jumping all over themselves trying to decide whether they’re real or fake.
Turns out, it’s a matter of perspective.
The South Texas Hunting Association posted the photos to its Facebook page on Thursday, where they have been shared more than 260,000 times and gained worldwide headlines.
The photos came from a man named Markcuz Rangel, who wrote: “Wanted to share a monster bull frog we got yesterday afternoon at one of our fishing ponds in South texas ranch located in Batesville tx 13lb monster frog!!!”
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“Monster” is one word for a frog that looks like it could leap over cars.
“Frogzilla” – a nickname already slapped on it – is another. At 13 pounds the frog’s legs could feed an army.
Oh, but social media are crawling with skeptics, some of whom wrote on Facebook that the photos look Photoshopped or staged to make the frog look bigger.
“That frog is hanging from a tree and he’s standing 5 ft. Behind it,” guessed one man.
Wrote one woman who obviously believes everything really is bigger in Texas: “Never ever never going to Texas.”
Then there was this exchange.
Guy from New York: “In NY we would love to see that frog in zoo so why some f***er killed it instead of catching it and show it to the rest of the world alive??”
South Texas Hunting Association: “Cuz here in Texas we eat what we kill.”
The photo is real, a spokesman for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department told The Houston Chronicle.
But there’s a big catch.
“It’s not as bigly as it appears,” spokesman Steve Lightfoot told the newspaper.
He said the frog looks huge because of an “optical illusion created by extending (the) frog toward the camera – similar to what you see with fishermen holding up fish to make them appear larger.”
He added: “Still a big bullfrog, though.”
Lightfoot told KFOX in El Paso that bullfrogs are typically no bigger than a pound.
“The photo is real, and I’ve got others from the same area, just not as big but still big bullfrogs,” Rangel told KFOX.
Rangel told the TV station he didn’t think the photo would go viral like it has and regretted not taking more photos and video to prove it’s real. He said he was holding the frog slightly away from his body in the photo.
Myth-busting website Snopes, though, called bull on Rangel’s statement that the frog weighed 13 pounds.
“Although the South Texas Hunting Association claimed that this image showed a real 13 pound bullfrog, we’re skeptical about the creature’s size,” Snopes wrote.
“For one, 13 pounds is simply too big for a frog. Adult American Bullfrogs, the largest frogs in the United States, only weigh about 1.5 pounds. The largest frog in the world, the Goliath Frog, is also too small to meet the requirements of this claim.
“The Goliath Frog, which has a relatively small habitat range in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea (and not South Texas), only weighs about 7 pounds.”
Snopes, too, tweaked Rangel for using forced perspective to make the frog look bigger.