While many creatures of the Amphiterran timeline occupy ecological niches with strong parallels to the mammalian creatures of our timeline, the eon toads are a phenomenon that is made possible only through the unique features of amphibian physiology.
Many amphibians of our own timeline are able to endure the long months of winter for extended periods of time by entering a state of frozen hibernation. The eon toad takes this ability and runs with it. At this time in Earth’s history, the world is in the grip of a brutal ice age, decimating vast swaths of the cold-vulnerable amphibian megafauna. To survive ‘winters’ that can last years, the eon toad can enter a state of hibernation more effective than anything in our own timeline. When awake, the eon toad is devastating to its environment, consuming vast swaths of vegetation during a relatively hot spring, summer and fall, stripping trees and fields bare. Their huge size deters ever the most fierce predator. Males and females will seek each-other out with bellowing, low frequency calls to mate. Eggs are deposited into flowing streams where the water won’t freeze. Multitudes of tadpoles hatch, but few will survive, acting as a staple for the areas carnivores. As winter sets in, the eon toad will shuffle into the ground, digging a small hollow to hunker down into as the temperature drops. Then, remarkably, the eon toad allows itself to be completely frozen. Cryoprotectors stop its cells from undergoing lethal shrinkage, entering a state of suspended animation. And it waits. The eon toad can stay suspended for years, enduring periods of minor freezing and unfreezing as it waits for the perfect spring to become active again, and the cycle renews.
The cryogenic process is a formidable defense, but it is far from flawless. While the frozen, boulder-like flesh of the toad has little interest to predators, the eon toad is vulnerable while in the process of freezing and un-freezing, making an easy meal for a determined predator in its state of stupor. However, the biggest threats to an eon toad are, ironically, the same vegetation it will wake to consume. As the toad sleeps, many types of vegetation will grow over its body, usually only mosses and lichens that creep and cover the sleeping toad. Should a tree take root on its body, however, it can be lethal, as it sinks roots deep into the toads body. Many toads will not survive this, though some toads can be found in a waking state with young trees being carried around on their bodies.