Huffpost Science

Largest Crocodile Ever Lived In Africa, Crocodylus Thorbjarnarsoni Fossils Suggest

Posted: Updated:
LARGEST CROCODILE
Comparison of sizes of prehistoric crocodile and modern-day Nile River croc. | Chris Brochu

By: OurAmazingPlanet Staff
Published: 05/07/2012 04:28 PM EDT on OurAmazingPlanet

Scientists have announced the discovery of a newfound crocodile species that may have been the largest to ever roam the Earth. The colossal reptiles trolled East African waters between 4 million and 2 million years ago, and may have snacked on human ancestors, researchers said.

The largest fossil specimens recovered belong to massive crocodiles some 25 feet (7.5 meters) in length; and the ancient giants may have grown larger than 27 feet (8 meters), according to Christopher Brochu, an associate professor of geosciences at the University of Iowa.


Brochu stumbled upon the new species three years ago, while examining enormous fossils housed at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi. It took four men to lift the skull of one of the specimens, which were originally excavated from the Turkana Basin, an area surrounding Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.

The region is a famed hotspot for human fossil finds. Many early hominids have been unearthed from the Turkana Basin, and Brochu said it's possible some of them came to a nasty end, thanks to the prehistoric crocodiles, dubbed Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni.

"It lived alongside our ancestors, and it probably ate them." Brochu said in a statement, adding that the colossal reptiles may have swallowed them whole.

"We don’t actually have fossil human remains with croc bites, but the crocs were bigger than today's crocodiles, and we were smaller, so there probably wasn't much biting involved," he said.

Brochu's research is published in the May 3 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The newfound species isn't closely related to Nile crocodiles, Brochu said. "We really don't know where the Nile crocodile came from," he said, "but it only appears after some of these prehistoric giants died out."

Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 OurAmazingPlanet, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Also on HuffPost:

Extinct Prehistoric Animals
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Pictures: Crocodile, Bat Fossils Found in Underwater Cave

Video -- Croc Fossil Found in Cave -- National Geographic

Giant Ancient Crocodile Uncovered in Colombia | Wired Science ...

Mammal-like crocodile fossil found in East Africa, scientists report

Fossilized Skull of Giant Crocodile From Cretaceous - NYTimes.com

Ancient dino-eating croc had big teeth, dog face - Technology ...

Croc Fossil Discovered in Cave - YouTube

Ancient Crocodile Was World's Largest

Did dinosaur 'emissions' help warm the prehistoric climate? (+video)

Tracking Maryland's dinosaurs