Total croc: Toothy tyrant of the Jurassic was 9m long

October 15, 2014
A crocodile lies in its pen on September 22, 2014, in Pierrelate, southeastern France

A forerunner of today's crocodiles that lurked in coastal waters and estuaries some 150 million years ago measured 9.26 metres (some 30 feet) from snout to tail, scientists reported Wednesday.

Paleontologists from half a dozen European countries took a fresh look at the classification of so-called crocodylomorphs that go by the name of Machimosaurus.

Sifting through fossils of teeth and pieces of jawbone and cranium housed in museums, they concluded that the Machimosaurus family comprised three species in Europe and a fourth in Ethiopia.

The baby of the clan, Europe's Machimosaurus buffetauti, measured an estimated 5.8 m, while the big daddy—Machimosaurus hugii, also from Europe, was around 1.5 times the size of the longest today at 9.26 m. The size of the Ethiopian creature cannot be reliably estimated.

The four species lived in the Late Jurassic, a period about 161 to 145 million years ago that was a boom time for crocodylomorph evolution, but they were probably not contemporaries, the investigators said.

The beasts would have feasted on turtles or hard-scaled fish, according to the study published in the British journal Royal Society Open Science.

Explore further: 14 closely related crocodiles existed around five million years ago

Related Stories

Precursor of European rhinos found in Vietnam

March 13, 2014

A team of scientists from the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment Tübingen was able to recover fossils of two previously unknown mammal species that lived about 37 ...

Early dino was turkey-sized, social plant-eater

August 6, 2014

The forerunner of dinosaurs like three-horned Triceratops was a bird-hipped creature the size of a turkey that lived in herds in South America and liked to munch on ferns, scientists said Wednesday.

New dinosaur species unearthed in Venezuela

October 8, 2014

(Phys.org) —A team of paleontologists with members from Brazil, Venezuela, the U.S. and Germany has found fossil evidence of a previously unknown dinosaur in Venezuela. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society ...

Recommended for you

An inflexible diet led to the disappearance of the cave bear

August 23, 2016

Senckenberg scientists have studied the feeding habits of the extinct cave bear. Based on the isotope composition in the collagen of the bears' bones, they were able to show that the large mammals subsisted on a purely vegan ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

MaxC500
not rated yet Oct 16, 2014
Almost 10 meter long crocodiles. The European continent sure has seen amazing developments throughout its history. Especially like the fact that ancient Homo sapiens lived together with all those European Neanderthals tens of thousands of years ago (overlapping period of a few thousand years). Those ancient cities up to 15.000 years old. The ancient Greeks and all their developments (Olympics, Democracy, Antikythera mechanism). Ancient Romans and all their developments (too much). The modern EU and the cooperation of all these nations finally in peace. The AIRBUS, CERN, ESA, etc. So many great developments.

And looking at the enormous number of upcoming projects and cooperations on the scale of AIRBUS things are clearly barely getting started. Such potential. Wow. But those crocks sure are amazing. Perhaps they can alter DNA on a regular crocodile to make it grow to that size again. Didn't those large animal sizes also have something to do with increased oxygen levels back then.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.