Recently, a largest dinosaur skeleton was found in Japan. And now, a scientist from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa has claimed that the giant and predatory crocodile-like animals that lived during the Triassic period preyed on early dinosaurs 210 million years ago. Known as "rauisuchians", the predators lived in southern Africa and preyed on early herbivore dinosaurs and their mammal relatives living at the time.
"These ancient fossils provide us with evidence of how at least two predator species hunted these vegetarian dinosaurs 210 million-years-ago," said Rick Tolchard from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. "It is amazing to follow the clues left behind in fossilised teeth, jaws, limbs and other fossils to help us tell the ancient story of life in southern Africa," he added.
It is to be noted that the fossils include teeth, pieces of jaws, hind limbs and body armour, all can be described as parts of rauisuchians. It is worth mentioning here that rauisuchians are closely related to crocodiles. They had a diversity of body shapes and sizes during the Triassic period. The specimens described in the research include some of the largest carnivorous members of this group, that were possibly up to 10 metres long, with huge skulls full of serrated, curved teeth.
The study, published online in the Journal of African Earth Sciences last week, shows that the rauisuchians were some of the latest-surviving members of their group.
Tolchard further said, “In the Triassic period, rauisuchians were widespread and their fossils are known from all continents except Antarctica.” “They went extinct about 200 million years ago, paving the way for dinosaurs to become the dominant large land animals,” he added.
Jonah Choiniere, Rick's advisor and Professor at the Wits Evolutionary Studies Institute, said, "Rick's study demonstrates the value of re-examining old specimens, and now we finally know what was preying on all those herbivorous dinosaurs."