In the region of Madagascar, 165 million years ago, before it broke off from Africa and India, there were crocodilians of the species Razanandrongobe sakalavae. The newly-named species left fossils that indicate it was a land predator that ate dinosaurs for breakfast. Bigger than any existent crocodilians, it had a deep skull and relatively long legs. A real monster.
The fragmented fossilized remains of the horror-croc (nicknamed ‘Razana’, as in ‘Razana, Eater of Worlds’) have been described in a new paper in the journal PeerJ by a team of Italian and French paleontologists. The species was first documented in the literature more than a decade ago, but due to limitations of the fossils, its specific classification was unknown. Up until now, it wasn’t clear if Razana was a massive, meat-eating theropod dinosaur, or some other kind of reptile. New fossils of the jaws and teeth, collected from the same region of northwestern Madagascar where the first fossils were found, reveal that Razanandrongobe sakalavae—the “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region”—was actually a relative of today’s crocodiles and alligators.
Read what we know about this terrifying prehistoric croc at Gizmodo.
(Image credit: Fabio Manucci)