Ancient ‘terror crocodiles’ lived some 75 million years ago and had teeth the size of bananas capable of taking down the largest dinosaurs
- Deinoschus lived at least 75 million years ago in North America
- Experts have studied the creatures, but have to understand the animal
- Fossils show teeth the size of bananas, allowing it to prey on large dinosaurs
- Scientists have speculated this due to bit marks found on dinosaur bones
Massive ‘terror crocodiles’ roamed the earth at least 75 million years ago, but have remained a mystery among the scientific community – until now.
Palaeontologist examined fossilized jaws belonging to a number of Deinoschus, revealing the beasts had teeth ‘the size of bananas’ with crushing power to take down even the largest dinosaurs.
The remains suggest these creatures had a long, broad snout, with an inflated area around the nose, which has not been seen in any other crocodilian – neither living nor extinct.
The team believes Deinoschus terrorized unsuspecting creatures that came to the water’s edge to drink, deeming them opportunistic predators.
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Palaeontologist examined fossilized jaws belonging to a number of Deinoschus, revealing the beasts had teeth ‘the size of bananas’ with crushing power to take down even the largest dinosaurs
There are three known Deinosuchus species: Deinosuchus hatcheri, Deinosuchus riograndensis and Deinosuchus schwimmeri.
Fossilized remains of these creatures have only been uncovered in North America, primarily in the west and along the Atlantic coast.
Ranging in up to 33 feet in length Deinosuchus, though, has been known to be one of the largest, if not the largest, crocodylian genera ever in existence.
And experts say the creature roamed alongside the largest predatory dinosaurs 75 to 82 million years ago.
The team believes Deinoschus terrorized unsuspecting creatures that came to the water’s edge to drink, deeming them opportunistic predators
Ranging in up to 33 feet in length Deinosuchus, though, has been known to be one of the largest, if not the largest, crocodylian genera ever in existence
However, prior to the recent study, paleontologists only had craniums of the creatures and bite marks on other dinosaur bones.
Dr Adam Cossette, who led the study, now confirms Deinosuchus fed on large dinosaurs.
‘Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,’ said Cossette, from the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University.
‘Until now, the complete animal was unknown. These new specimens we’ve examined reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas.’
The remains suggest these creatures had a long, broad snout, with an inflated area around the nose, which has not been seen in any other crocodilian – neither living nor extinct
Although the genus’s name means ‘terror crocodile,’ experts say they are more similar to alligators.
However, their enormous skulls do not match that of an alligator or crocodile.
Co-author Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, a paleontologist at the University of Tennessee, added: ‘Deinosuchus seems to have been an opportunistic predator, and given that it was so enormous, almost everything in its habitat was on the menu.’
‘We actually have multiple examples of bite marks made by D. riograndensis and a species newly described in this study, D. schwimmeri, on turtle shells and dinosaur bones.’
They are said to have disappeared from the Earth before the main mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs, but the reason remains a mystery.
Chrisopher Brochu, co-author of the study from the University of Iowa, said: ‘It was a strange animal.’
‘It shows that crocodylians are not ‘living fossils’ that haven’t changed since the age of dinosaurs. They’ve evolved just as dynamically as any other group.’
HOW THE DINOSAURS WENT EXTINCT AROUND 66 MILLION YEARS AGO
Dinosaurs ruled and dominated Earth around 66 million years ago, before they suddenly went extinct.
The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event is the name given to this mass extinction.
It was believed for many years that the changing climate destroyed the food chain of the huge reptiles.
In the 1980s, paleontologists discovered a layer of iridium.
This is an element that is rare on Earth but is found in vast quantities in space.
When this was dated, it coincided precisely with when the dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record.
A decade later, scientists uncovered the massive Chicxulub Crater at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which dates to the period in question.
Scientific consensus now says that these two factors are linked and they were both probably caused by an enormous asteroid crashing to Earth.
With the projected size and impact velocity, the collision would have caused an enormous shock-wave and likely triggered seismic activity.
The fallout would have created plumes of ash that likely covered all of the planet and made it impossible for dinosaurs to survive.
Other animals and plant species had a shorter time-span between generations which allowed them to survive.
There are several other theories as to what caused the demise of the famous animals.
One early theory was that small mammals ate dinosaur eggs and another proposes that toxic angiosperms (flowering plants) killed them off.