Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology

A greatly-oversized, satirical depiction of the carn-pnay from Frogs & Toads (1989) by Trevor Beebee.

Category Frog
Proposed scientific names
Other names Agak, akok, am, gyok
Country reported Papua New Guinea
First reported 1949[1]
Prominent investigators • Michael J. Tyler

The carn-pnay or akok was a cryptid amphibian reported from the eastern highlands of Papua New Guinea, particularly in the cloud forests and rainforests of the Jimi Valley.[2] As described by the Wahgi and Karam people,[3] it is reputedly a gigantic frog on a par with, or somewhat larger than, the world's largest known species.[4]


The first rumours of giant frogs in the eastern highlands of New Guinea appeared in the Australian press in 1949. A Papuan huntsman, who had been hired to capture a long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus sp.) for the Hallstrom Experimental Station at Nondugl, claimed to have seen giant frogs around the headwaters of the Purari River, prompting an unsuccessful expedition.[1]

Accounts of the carn-pnay or agak were collected from the Wahgi people[3] of the Jimi Valley by frog specialist Michael J. Tyler (1937 – 2020), who first heard of it while staying at Nondugl. Local people, who were capable of describing its appearance and size in detail, and who made rough drawings of it, described it as appearing very rarely near the confluence of the Tim and Tagan Rivers. Villagers from this region were familiar with the giant frogs: they hunted them with dogs, using arrows and sticks to kill them. A single carn-pnay reportedly has enough meat to feed several people.[5] Tyler organised large nocturnal search parties, but was unable to obtain any evidence of the carn-pnay's existence. However, the testimony of around two hundred informants convinced him that the frog existed.[4] Tyler subsequently published a paper on the carn-pnay in the British Journal of Herpetology.[6]

Tyler later provided more details on the giant frogs, collected in the Upper Kaironk Valley and the Upper Aunjang Valley in the Schrader Range, in a detailed paper on Karam frog ethnozoology co-authored by ethnobiologist Ralph Bulmer. The Karam people applied several names to these frogs, but non-specifically, including akok, gyok, and am. The name akok was also applied to a small aquatic frog; those Karam who described it as very large maintained that it was found in the Jimi and Asai Valleys, but not locally.[3]


According to the Karam people, the name akok, which is cognate with the Wahgi term agak, is onomatopoeic. The frog reportedly makes a yodelling vocalisation, transcribed as "akok-akok-akok." [3]


The carn-pnay is distinguished mainly by its "extreme size" and bulk: it is reported to be "about the size of a rabbit and considerably fatter," or of a human baby.[5] All of Tyler's informants estimated its snout-vent length as at least 12 in (30 cm), on a par with larger specimens of the world's largest known frog: the goliath bullfrog (Conraua goliath), discovered only in 1906, which has an absolute record snout-vent length of 14 in (36 cm), and weight of 8 lbs 1 oz (3 kg 66 g),[7] although there are unconfirmed reports of larger specimens.[8] Edward Llewellyn Powe later mentioned the existence of giant frogs, heavier than 7 lbs (3 kg 175 g) and larger than a man's head, in New Guinea.[9] According to most Karam informants, it is aquatic, and resembles the akpt or cebs frog (Papurana grisea) in shape, but is very much larger, with different markings.[3] The area the carn-pnay was reported to inhabit is dominated by bogs and moss-forests.[4] In 1960, local people regarded it as a very rare animal, which was usually seen when it emerged from the forest to spawn in the rivers, probably during December.[4][2] One Karam informant from Skow, Gi, described it as "essentially a tree-frog," albeit an understory one, which only ventured into the water during the spawning season. He maintained that it could grow to the size of a newborn baby.[3]


One of Tyler and Bulmer's Karam informants claimed to have captured an "enormous" akok, which he knocked down from a tree, in the Asai Valley. Gi also told them that he had discovered a 7-8 in (17–20 cm) long specimen in a rock cleft near the Kamok River in August 1963. He described it as bright green above and yellow below, with human-sized eyes, and "hands" like those of a man or a lizard.[3]


Papurana daemeli 58918386

The largest known frogs of New Guinea are those of the genus Papurana (CC BY 4.0).

Tree frog

The large green tree akok seen by Gi may have been an oversized white-lipped tree frog (Nyctimystes infrafrenatus; CC BY-SA 3.0).

The largest frog officially recorded from New Guinea is the Arfak Mountains frog (Papurana arfaki), which can very rarely attain a length of 8 in (20 cm),[3][10] and is known from the Jimi Valley. Tyler and Bulmer suggested that Karam descriptions of the akok could possibly refer to either the Arfak Mountains frog, or an even larger, unknown species of the genus Papurana.[3] Tyler personally felt that the carn-pnay was an undescribed species,[2] noting that the Wahgi were familiar with the Arfak Mountains frog, which they called the week.[5]

In 1963, Tyler described the Jimi River frog (P. jimiensis) from the same river basin allegedly inhabited by the carn-pnay. According to Karl Shuker, it was initially claimed that this frog, then the second-largest species known from New Guinea, was the identity of the carn-pnay, and that the original reports had been greatly exaggerated.[10] However, Tyler continued to describe the carn-pnay and akok as uncollected giant frogs.[3][5] He later told cryptozoologist Chad Arment that he had never been able to return to the exact area it inhabited, and that he still hoped the carn-pnay might one day be discovered. Arment therefore regards its true identity as a mystery.[2]

Tyler and Bulmer suggested that the green tree-frog seen by Gi was possibly the white-lipped tree frog (Nyctimystes infrafrenatus), the world's largest species of tree frog, which has an identical colour scheme. However, they admitted that this species is only known to grow up to 5 in (12 cm) in length, 2–3 in (5–7 cm) shorter than the frog seen by Gi.[3]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "New Guinea Development," Great Southern Herald (16 December 1949)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Arment, Chad (2004) Cryptozoology: Science & Speculation, Coachwhip Publications, ISBN 978-1930585157
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Bulmer, Ralph & Tyler, Michael J. "Karam Classification of Frogs," Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 77, No. 4 (1968)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "A Giant Frog Reported From New Guinea," New Scientist, No. 298 (2 August 1962)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Tyler, Michael J. (1976) Frogs
  6. Tyler, Michael J. "On the Possible Existence of a Giant Frog in New Guinea," British Journal of Herpetology, Vol. 3, No. 2 (1962)
  7. Carwardine, Mark (2008) Animal Records
  8. Wood, Gerald L. (1976) The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats
  9. Powe, Edward Llewellyn (1994) The Lore of Melanesia
  10. 10.0 10.1 Shuker, Karl P. N. (1993) The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-219943-2