Fossils Indicate. . .Wow, What a Croc!

8:25am, October 24, 2001

Newly discovered fossils of an ancient cousin of modern crocodiles suggest that adults of the species may have been dinosaur-munching behemoths that grew to the length of a school bus and weighed as much as 8 metric tons.

Paleontologists first found remains of Sarcosuchus imperator–which translates as emperor of the flesh-eating crocodiles–in the Ténéré Desert of Niger in the 1960s. The initial description of the species was based on only a few bones and a partial skull, says Paul C. Sereno, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Chicago. Those fragments enabled the scientists to determine that the animal was related to today's crocodiles but didn't provide many clues about its lifestyle or ultimate size.

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