Researchers discovered new fossil remains belonging to a massive crocodile ancestor that lived and was probably an apex predator during the Jurassic Period era. The animal could have weighed about a ton and been around seven meters long.
This Jurassic-Era ancestor is an elusive notosuchian part of the archosaurian, some of the most fearsome predators before the appearance of the T-rex. Only a few remains of the specimens of this species have been discovered.
Crocodile Ancestor, Apex Predator
This new fossil, a jaw part, was discovered in north-west Madagascar, near the village of Ambondromamy. A closer analysis of these remains helped paint a clearer picture of what this elusive animal must have looked like.
For example, it revealed that it had strong, very large and probably deadly teeth. Ones possibly measuring some 15 centimeters from root to tip. These might have also presented serrated edges on the inner side, ones perfect for tearing into prey and breaking tendons and bones.
The teeth were also particularly wide and also expanded at the root. Their shape, resembling halved bananas, are called “pachydont teeth”. This also resembles the broad T-rex teeth more than it does any other of its close relations.
Cristiano Dal Sasso, the study’s author, states that the creature was about the size of a big saltwater crocodile.
“”Based on the preserved skull bones, we infer a body shape similar to that of baurusuchids, and consequently an overall length of 7 metres – 1.6m wide at the hips – and a weight of 800-1,000 kilograms,” states the lead, Dal Sasso.
The newly discovered crocodile ancestor is called Razanandrongobe sakalavae or, for short, Razana. It is believed to be the ‘most ancient’ and also largest notosuchians. It is some 42 million years older than the next known oldest specimen.
Study results are available in the journal PeerJ.
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