by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com
Australia, known for being home to massive saltwater crocodiles in the present, also hosted super-sized crocs millions of years ago. Researchers studying fossils found in southeast Queensland in the 19th century have discovered a new species of ancient crocodile they say may have measured around 23 feet in length, reports Soofia Tariq for the Guardian. That’s slightly longer than the biggest confirmed saltwater crocodiles but still well shy of the 40-foot extinct croc Sarcosuchus imperator.
The new Australian crocodile has been dubbed Gunggamarandu maunala, a name that incorporates words from the Barunggam and Waka Waka Indigenous languages spoken near where the fossil was found and translates to “hole-headed river boss.” Researchers described the new species, which is thought to have lived between two and five million years ago, based on a chunk of the back part of its skull in a paper published last week in the journal Scientific Reports.
The team arrived at their estimate of Gunggamarandu maunala’s size by first extrapolating the probable size of its skull, which they say probably measured at least two and a half feet long. The giant reptile is the largest extinct crocodilian ever found in Australia, …Read More: