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News: New species of prehistoric giant crocodile found in North Africa

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This post is a couple of days late, but I hope you’ll forgive me. A few days ago, University of Bologna paleontologist Federico Fanti and his colleagues announced that they had discovered the fossilized remains of a thirty-foot crocodile in southern Tunisia within rocks dated to the early Cretaceous Period, about 130 million years ago. The skull alone was five feet long. The fossils had been found in December 2014, and the skeleton, remarkably, was associated (meaning that all of the bones came from one individual, and were not the jumbled remains of multiple individuals) and the skeleton was articulated (all of the bones were in their proper anatomical placement).

Machimosaurus rex, as it has been named, belonged to a group of oceanic crocodilians called the teleosaurids, which was thought to have gone extinct at the end of the Jurassic Period. The genus Machimosaurus had first been described in 1837 by the German paleontologist Christian von Meyer. Prior to the discovery of M. rex, there were four other species known to science, most of which lived in Europe during the Jurassic Period.

Although certainly large, Machimosaurus is still not as big as the two tie-winners for “largest crocodile ever”: Sarcosuchus and Deinosuchus, both of which measured forty feet long.

The discovery and naming of this crocodile was published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

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