Weird History

This Giant Prehistoric Crocodile Relative Hunted Down Dinosaurs Millions Of Years Ago  

Genevieve Carlton
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What's more terrifying than a T. rex? How about a prehistoric land crocodile that grew 40 feet long and ate dinosaurs? Recent research into prehistoric crocodiles uncovered a new species named Razanandrongobe sakalavae, or Razana for short. Scientists say Razana had teeth like Tyrannosaurus rex, was capable of galloping, and hunted dinosaurs. During the Jurassic period, Razana dominated Madagascar.

With all the attention dinos get, many people are surprised to learn lots of Jurassic animals weren't dinosaurs. Many share characteristics with modern animals. Take the shark, for example. The prehistoric shark ancestor megalodon grew 60 feet long, terrorizing the seas. Like the ancient crocodile, megalodon was much larger than its modern descendants. But while today's sharks can't live outside the water, Razana was a land creature capable of taking down dinosaurs. And that's not all - Razana didn't just dine on dino flesh, it also ate bones whole. Scientists even think it might have stood on two legs. Razana is ready to give T. rex a run for its money.

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Photo: Fabio Manucci/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0
It Was An Apex Predator That Could Devour Bones

Dinosaurs weren't at the top of the food chain, after all. The discovery of Razanandrongobe sakalavae, or Razana for short, uncovered a new apex predator. With serrated teeth as large as bananas, Razana took on dinosaurs in prehistoric Madagascar.

And dinosaur flesh wasn't the only thing that fell prey to the enormous prehistoric crocodile - Razana's teeth were sharp enough to devour bone and hard tissue. 

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Photo: David Monniaux/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
It Shares An Important Similarity With T. Rex

Razana was a dinosaur-hunting crocodile, but the species shared some surprising similarities with Tyrannosaurus rex. Both predators had serrated teeth that were quite similar, giving them an advantage when hunting. Both also shared a similarly oversized jaw filled with those teeth. 

In fact, the scientists who uncovered Razana note that the prehistoric crocodile's teeth are "remarkably large." Razana boasted teeth "even larger than... Tyrannosaurus rex."

Razana and T. rex never battled it out, though. Razana lived about 165 million years ago, while the T. rex didn't fully emerge until around 67 million years ago.

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Photo: Unknown/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0
Today's Crocodiles Are Slow Compared To Razana

Crocodiles today spend a fair amount of time lying in rivers. Razana was different. Like other notosuchians, Razana primarily lived on land. And unlike today's crocodiles, Razana was designed for speed. Razana's legs didn't splay out like today's crocodiles. Instead, they went straight down from the creature's body.

That means Razana was capable of moving much faster than crocodiles and alligators today. In fact, Razana could gallop.

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Photo: Matt Martyniuk Dinoguy2/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
Razana Wasn't The Only Prehistoric Crocodile - But It Was One Of The Biggest

The crocodile family had several prehistoric members, and many were significantly larger than current crocodiles and alligators. Sarcosuchus imperator, for example, grew up to 39 feet long. Purussaurus brasilensis could be 34 feet long.

Razana was in a class of its own. While the limited fossil evidence makes it difficult to establish an exact size, scientists believe Razana was larger than Sarcosuchus.