A new study has shed more light on gigantic “terror crocodiles,” that once roamed the world and preyed on dinosaurs with teeth “the size of bananas.”
The research, which was conducted in 2018, published this week in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. It found that the Deinosuchus – a lineage of giant Late Cretacecous crocodylians from North America – were nearly as long as city buses, growing up to 33 feet in length, according to the study authors.
“Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,” Dr. Cossette, co-author of the study, said in in a news release announcing the research’s findings. “Until now, the complete animal was unknown. These new specimens we’ve examined reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas.”
Deinosuchus’ name means “terror crocodiles,” but the study’s authors say that they more closely resembled alligators. However, the Deinosuchus snout was long and broad, and it had two mysterious holes at the tip of its snout, which differentiated it from both alligators and crocodiles.
There were at least three species of Deinosuchus, and they lived in the west of America from Montana to northern Mexico and along the Atlantic coastal plain from New Jersey to Mississippi, the researchers said.
The Deinosuchus was likely the largest predator in its ecosystem, outweighing even the largest predatory dinosaurs living in the same era. Researchers discovered bite marks on everything from dinosaur bones to turtle shells.
Luckily, these “terror crocodiles” lived between 75 and 82 million years ago.
“It was a strange animal,” Professor Christopher Brochu, co-author of the study, said in the news release. “It shows that crocodylians are not ‘living fossils’ that haven’t changed since the age of dinosaurs. They’ve evolved just as dynamically as any other group.”
It is unknown what happened to the Deinosuchus and how they became extinct, as the study authors found that they disappeared before the main mass extinction at the end of the age of dinosaurs.