Crocodiles may look scary in 2020, but millions of years ago, they were so big, they were capable of eating dinosaurs. These massive North American crocodiles, scientists said, had “banana-sized” teeth.
According to a new study of Deinosuchus fossils published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the creatures lived between 75 million and 82 million years ago. Deinosuchus, which means “terror crocodile”, used their trinket teeth to eat even the largest dinosaurs – placing them at the top of the food chain in their ecosystem.
Researchers studied fossils and bite marks on turtle shells and dinosaur bones to create a complete picture of Deinosuchus. They said the animal, which grew up to 33 feet tall, was actually more related to alligators than crocodiles.
The researchers said that almost everything in their habitat was ready for predators to be eaten by mass predators.
“Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized the dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,” lead author Adam Cossette, a paleontologist at the New York Institute of Technology, said in a press release Monday. “Until now, the whole animal was unknown. These young specimens we examined reveal a strange, monstrous, toothed banana-sized predator.”
Cosette and co-researcher Christoper Brochu, a paleontologist at the University of Iowa, identified three known species of Deinosuchus: Deinosuchus hatcheri, Deinosuchus riograndensis, and Deinosuchus schwimmeri. The three roam different parts of the US, which at the time were cut in half by a shallow sea.
Many aspects of ancient beasts remain mysterious. They did not look like a crocodile or an alligator, and their extremely large noses had large holes in the tips that are completely unique and without a known purpose.
The animals were wiped before, but the reason for their disappearance remains unknown.
“It was a strange animal,” Brochu said. “This shows that crocodiles are not ‘living fossils’ that have not changed since the age of the dinosaurs. They have evolved just as dynamically as any other group.”