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Giant ‘Crocodile’ With Dinosaur Teeth in Madagascar

S u m m a r y :
A giant crocodile with dinosaur T. rex teeth used to walk freely during the Jurassic period in Indian Ocean island, Madagascar, says a new study published in the journal PeerJ.

A Predatory Crocodylomorph

The gigantic crocodile relative is documented by a team of paleontologists from Italy and France—it is described as being the oldest and biggest Notosuchian; its subsequent relative only appeared 42 million years later. The Notosuchian is a category of crocodylomorphs. Their features are considered to be unusual, what with their teeth like those of mammals, and armadillo-type of body armour.

Paleoartistic restoration of the crocodile-dinosaur from Madagascar, Razanandrongobe sakalavae, scavenging on a sauropod carcass. Photo credits: Fabio Manucci.

The croco-dino predator has been named Razanandrongobe sakalavae (meaning: giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region). The researchers have nicknamed it Razana.

Razana represents an exaggerated enlargement in body size across the evolutionary line of the Notosuchia.

Croco-Dino, A Jurassic Creature

The origin of Razana remains largely unknown. On the other hand, the Notosuchia are generally ascribed to the Cretaceous period. The new study, however, extends their existence to the following Jurassic era. The findings, thus, attempt to build a bridge between the two geologic periods.

The researchers figured out that Razana was a Jurassic notosuchian because of its physical traits: it resembled the South American baurusuchids and sebecids while its deep skull and erect limbs differentiated it from existing crocodilians.

Razana Had T. rex Teeth

The evidence gathered by the researchers includes Razana’s jaw bones that are deep and enormous with huge serrated teeth resembling the T. rex’s in size and shape. This feature suggests that the creature fed on hard tissues like bones and tendons.

Stronger than Dinosaurs

If predatory Razana and carnivorous theropod dinosaurs were to engage in a fight, which one would win?

Razana’s anatomy indicates that it might have actually outcompeted these dinosaurs. It would have made it at the top of the food chain, says Cristiano Dal Sasso from the Natural History Museum of Milan.

Endemic to Madagascar

Back when Razana existed, Madagascar was breaking up from other landmasses to which it used to belong. This timing suggests that Razana constituted an endemic lineage, explains study author Simone Maganuco. The latter adds that their findings support the theory that the Notosuchia started off in southern Gondwana.

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