A 10-meter-long crocodile lived in the ocean back in the early Cretaceous period, around 130 million years ago.
The fossil of a 10-meter-long crocodile who used to live in the ocean has been discovered in lower Cretaceous sediments in Tunisia. It is the largest marine crocodile ever to be found.
The ‘new’ species, albeit extinct, has been named Machimosaurus rex (M. rex). It is described in the journal Cretaceous Research; the paper is available on ScienceDirect.
The fossils were dug more than a year ago in December 2014. The team of researchers led by Federico Fanti from Università di Bologna spotted several body parts such as the skull (fragments thereof), vertebrae, part of a humerus, ribs, teeth as well as osteoderms. They quickly figured out that these belonged to a species never documented before.
M. rex’s skull was 1.55 meters long, and its body, around 9.6 meters. It was a member of a group called marine crocodylomorphs that were claimed to have been wiped off the surface of the Earth during the late Jurassic period, before the Cretaceous one. However, the new evidence suggests M. rex lived around 120 million to 130 million years ago, which implies that the creatures went past the Jurassic-Cretaceous era.
The researchers think M. rex was an ambush predator. It would take as prey both aquatic and land animals, similar to contemporary crocodiles. Apparently, its ‘victims’ included hard-shelled vertebrates given that it had short and rounded teeth comparable to other Machimosauruses. Furthermore, the presence of one-meter long turtles found in the same pit as the fossils suggests the former were also part of the giant crocodile’s diet.