They had banana-sized teeth, were as long as buses and limos, and cut dinosaurs that fed near their waterways.
These are among some of the findings presented in a new study announced this week about an ancient animal called the “terror crocodile,” or Deinosuchus.
The research, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, found that Deinosuchus, a descendant of giant crocodiles from North America, grew to 33 feet tall and “was the largest carnivore in its ecosystem” in the Late Cretaceous. about 75 to 82 million years ago.
Adam Cossette, a vertebrate paleobiologist who led the study, said in an email on Tuesday that while it was difficult to determine their average size because there were so few known specimens, “the specimens we have are SHUMGE. “
Dr Cossette, of the New York Institute of Technology Institute of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, said the large specimens were 30 to 35 feet long and weighed about 8,000 pounds. For comparison, he said a large American alligator today is about 12 to 13 feet tall, weighs about 700 to 800 pounds, and has teeth about three inches long at the tip of its snake.
He also said that ancient reptiles had a fairly large head and enough jaws to prey on dinosaurs living among them.
“Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink, “he said in a statement.” Until now, the entire animal was unknown. These new specimens we have examined reveal a predator of weird, monstrous. “
Aside from killing the dinosaurs, the animals, because of their size, probably cut off almost everything that roamed their way. Researchers found numerous bite marks on turtle shells and dinosaur bones.
They also found that at least three species of Deinosuchus roam in what is now the United States and Mexico. Two species lived west, from Montana in northern Mexico, and another species lived along the Atlantic coast, from New Jersey to Mississippi.
The study said that despite the name of the genus, which means “terror crocodile”, the creatures were more closely related to alligators. But because of a large skull, they did not even look like crocodiles or alligators.
The letter was long and wide, “but swollen in the front around the nose in a way not seen in any other crocodile, alive or disappearing,” according to the researchers, using an alternative crocodile spelling.
The reason for her enlarged nose is not known, the researchers said. They also do not know why the animal had two large holes at the top of the snout, in front of the nose.
“These holes are unique to Deinosuchus,” said Dr. Cossette. “Further research below will hopefully help us unravel this mystery.”
His study colleague Christopher Brochu, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Iowa, said the fossils showed how crocodiles were not “living fossils” that have not changed since the dinosaur era. “
“They have evolved as dynamically as any other group,” he said in the statement.
“The earliest ancestors of the American alligator, such as the Deinosuchus, were strange and unlike anything we see in modern day crocodile species,” said Dr. Cossette in email. “The evolutionary history of Crocodylia is far more interesting than meets the eye.”
Mark A. Norell, curator and chairman of the paleontology division of the American Museum of Natural History, said the study had many new findings, particularly regarding the bizarre inflation at the bottom of the skull, the weight and size of the animals and the shape of the skull. her.
And Dr. Norell said there was much more to learn because animal fossils remained rare, under-controlled, and undervalued. “Usually collecting and studying them is a change,” he said, “as most of the work done on these formations and deposits is dominated by dinosaurs.”