Study claims the five-ton extinct reptiles had teeth the size of bananas
Even the magnificent dinosaurs might have lived in worry of the giant extinct crocodilian Deinosuchus, whose name translates to “terror crocodile.” These monstrous swamp-dwellers got to lengths of more than 30 feet, weighed as much as 8,000 extra pounds and delivered bone squashing bites with teeth the dimension of bananas, reports Johnny Diaz for the New York City Times.
Now, study published this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology revisits fossil specimens of the terrifying animal and exposes brand-new information about their reign over the swamps of Late Cretaceous North America.
Despite their name, terror crocodiles are actually more closely related to contemporary alligators. But that does not mean they just looked like goliath gators, or crocodiles for that matter. Deinosuchus’ snout was long and broad with a strangely bulbous nose that featured two additional holes positioned in front of its nostrils, according to the paper. The researchers aren’t certain why Deinosuchus had such a honking nose or what those extra holes were for.
” Many people think crocodiles have not transformed in 75 million years,” Adam Cossette, a paleobiologist at the New york city Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine of Arkansas State University and the paper’s lead author, tells Gabriela Saldivia of NPR. “This study reveals that the ancestors of today’s American alligator really did not look anything like them.”
After researching the tooth-studded maws of these unfamiliar-looking reptilian titans, Cossette informs the Times he’s confident they would certainly have positioned a credible threat to the huge dinosaurs that walked the Earth at the time. This finding broadens the previous understanding of the pet’s feeding habits, which had been assumed to be much more opportunistic than careful.
Poring over Deinosuchus remains also revealed that there were not one but three species that lived across North America between 75 million and 82 million years earlier, reports Allen Kim for CNN. 2 types, Deinosuchus hatcheri and Deinosuchus riograndensis, occupied the west from modern-day Montana to northern Mexico. The third lay in delay in the Atlantic coastal plain from New Jersey to Mississippi.
” Some of them were separated by a seaway that at one point cut The United States and Canada in half from what’s now the Gulf of Mexico up to the Arctic Sea,” Christopher Brochu, a paleontologist at the University of Iowa and the study’s co-author, informs NPR. ” Which may have driven what we call speciation. There could have been one ancestral Deinosuchus form in North America, and after that the seaway cut that population in half and on one side it evolved in one direction, the opposite side in a different direction.”
Mark A. Norell, the curator and chair of paleontology at the American Gallery of Nature, informs the Times the new searchings for highlight just how much there is left to find out about these animals, which are unusual and understudied.
” Usually their collection and research is an afterthought,” he tells the Times, “as a lot of job done on these formations and deposits is controlled by dinosaurs.”