Fossils of a prehistoric Jurassic-era crocodile have been discovered by scientists in Madagascar. The giant crocodile had enormous serrated teeth that are similar to those of the T-rex dinosaur. The gap in a million-year-long ghost lineage of Notosuchia, which was earlier unknown in the Jurassic period, has been filled by the findings.
The name of the predatory crocodyliform is Razanandrongobe sakalavae and has been nicknamed ‘Razana’. The meaning of the name is “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region.”
The deep and massive jaw bones housed the enormous serrated teeth that are similar in shape and size to those of a T-rex. This suggests strongly that such crocodiles fed on hard tissues such as bone and tendon during that era.
This taxon has been identified as a Jurassic notosuchian, thanks to a combination of anatomical features. It is close to the South American baurusuchids and sebecids that were highly specialised predators of terrestrial habits. They were different from the present day crocodilians in having a deep skull and powerful erect limbs.
“Like these and other gigantic crocs from the Cretaceous, ‘Razana’ could outcompete even theropod dinosaurs, at the top of the food chain,” said Cristiano Dal Sasso, of the Natural History Museum of Milan in Italy.
The oldest and possibly the largest representative of the Notosuchia by far is the Razanandrongobe sakalavae, documenting one of the earliest events of exacerbated increase in body size along the evolutionary history of the group.
“Its geographic position during the period when Madagascar was separating from other landmasses is strongly suggestive of an endemic lineage,” said Simone Maganuco from Natural History Museum of Milan.
“At the same time, it represents a further signal that the Notosuchia originated in southern Gondwana,” Maganuco said.
The research has been published in the journal PeerJ.
(With inputs from PTI)