This Crocodile Once Terrorized the Dinosaurs

Its head was the size of a washing machine; its teeth the size of bananas
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2017 4:58 PM CDT
Updated Jul 5, 2017 2:33 AM CDT
This Crocodile Once Terrorized the Dinosaurs
Artist rendering of Razanandrongobe sakalavae, an ancient crocodile, feasting on a dinosaur in what is now Madagascar.   (Fabio Manucci)

Meet Razanandrongobe sakalavae, the giant dinosaur-killing crocodile that roamed what is now Madagascar 165 million years ago. Razana, as it's known for short, was first discovered a decade ago, but due to limited fossilized remains, little was known about the creature until recently. Thanks to research published Tuesday in PeerJ, we now have a picture of—as Gizmodo describes it—"an enormous, land-striding relative of crocodiles with a nightmare where its face ought to go." Razana is believed to have been 23 feet long and weighed up to 2,200 pounds, CNN reports. Its head was the size of a washing machine, and its serrated teeth were the size of bananas. According to a press release, its teeth, which rival those of Tyrannosaurus rex, could likely crush bone and tendon.

Razana is further evidence that dinosaurs weren't quite the untouchable rulers of their world as once believed. Researchers, who describe Razana as a "one-ton, terrifying bone crusher," say it would have been at the top of the food chain in prehistoric Madagascar and eaten dinosaurs. While Razana has the front-facing nostrils, bony palate, and teeth sockets of modern crocodiles and alligators, it differs from its descendants in some pretty startling ways. For one, it was more suited to life on land, as evidenced by the positioning and shape of its legs, which gave Razana the ability to sprint after prey. (Tyrannosaurus rex had a bite so powerful it's hard to fathom.)

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