Massive bus-sized croc discovered in Sahara

The giant crocodile became extinct 130 million years ago. Photo / Davide Bonadonna
The giant crocodile became extinct 130 million years ago. Photo / Davide Bonadonna

Palaeontologists searching in Tunisia made a discovery of massive proportions: the world's previously unknown largest sea-dwelling crocodile.

This prehistoric crocodile is believed to have measured more than 10m long and weighed three tonnes. The skull alone is more than1.5m long. Researchers named the new species the Machimosaurus rex and described their findings this week in the journal Cretaceous Research.

"Massive" is how lead author Federico Fanti of the University of Bologna described the crocodile. "It's almost the size of a bus.

"It definitely was at the top of the food chain at the time, at least in this particular locality," he said.

Fanti and his team, supported by the National Geographic Society committee for research and exploration, found the fossils buried below just a few centimetres of sediment on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Tunisia, a country rich with fossils.

Machimosaurus rex. Photo / Davide Bonadonna
Machimosaurus rex. Photo / Davide Bonadonna

"This one was a big surprise, not because we found fossils, but we found beautiful ones," Fanti said.

The skull took two days to uncover, and the "rest of the body was just lying there".

This particular site was likely home to a lagoon that faced the ocean. Researchers also found the remains of fish and turtles that they still need to identify.

M. rex lived way after the "hypothesised mass extinction" between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods," Fanti said.

"That's leading us to consider the mass-extinction theory is wrong and that we should better understand what's going on at the end of the Jurassic period."

- Washington Post

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 21 Oct 2016 11:42:04 Processing Time: 227ms