A prehistoric dinosaur-eating crocodile existed in what is now known as Texas some 95 million years ago, standing out as one of the top predators of its time, as it also ate “whatever it wanted” in its environment.
The findings were based on extensive analysis of the fossilized crocodile ancestor and its prey, years after the creature’s bones were first found in the Arlington Archosaur Site in Texas. The animal is believed to have measured about 20-feet long, and researchers noted that its diet was quite varied, as it ate plants, turtles, and even other dinosaurs during its heyday.
According to the Daily Mail, the crocodile was named Deltasuchus motherali, taking the second half of its scientific name from Austin Motheral, who had worked closely with the researchers from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville on the new study. Motheral was only 15-years-old when he first found the dinosaur-eating crocodile’s bones in 2009.
The UT-Knoxville researchers believe that D. motherali was the “top predator” of its old stomping grounds, as gleaned from the bite marks found on the animal’s fossilized prey. This helped scientists come up with estimates for the crocodile’s size, as well as insight into what types of prey the creature consumed. Nonetheless, the researchers feel that there are still so many unanswered questions with regards to the state of Texas during the Cretaceous Period.
“We simply don’t have that many North American fossils from the middle of the Cretaceous, the last period of the age of dinosaurs, and the eastern half of the continent is particularly poorly understood,” said Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville paleontologist and study co-author.
“Fossils from the Arlington Archosaur Site are helping fill in this gap, and Deltasuchus is only the first of several new species to be reported from the locality.”
According to Fox News, the state we now know as Texas was a mostly watery area during the Cretaceous Period. But it wasn’t just fish and other aquatic animals that thrived in those days, as the area was also home to several dinosaur species, including the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex. These creatures existed in what is now the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and are now of serious interest to amateur and professional fossil hunters alike.
Deltasuchus motherali is only the second ancestor of the modern-day croc to be found at the Arlington Archosaur Site. But it’s not the only dinosaur-eating crocodile that lived during the Cretaceous Period. A 2009 report from National Geographic focused on the discovery of five “oddball” crocodiles from present-day Northern Africa, including one species that was codenamed “BoarCroc.” This animal was described by researchers as a “saber-toothed cat in armor,” and also measured about 20 feet in length, likewise feasting on dinosaurs like its Texan relative did.
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