This was an ancient predatory crocodile – how old? It lived between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago in the Great Australian Superbasin. It dates back to the Cretaceous period. The curious thing is how it was found now, with its last meal very well preserved. Thus it was learned that this was the crocodile that devoured dinosaurs.
It happened in what is now Australia. A huge relative of the crocodile swallowed a dinosaur in one gulp, and died shortly thereafter. As it fossilized, so did the partially digested dinosaur. It was a juvenile ornithopod, a duck-billed bipedal herbivore. The crocodile fossil was missing its tail, hind legs and much of its pelvis. But the skull and many bones of the rest of the body were intact. It was more than 2.5 meters long when it died.
They named the crocodile Confractosuchus sauroktonos. The cumbersome name, a new genus and species, is translated from Latin and Greek words. They mean “broken crocodile dinosaur killer,” the study said. Crocodiles first coexisted with dinosaurs beginning in the Triassic period (251.9 million to 201.3 million years ago). Previous evidence suggests that they found some dinosaurs delicious.
Part of the diet
Preserved intestinal contents are very rarely found in crocodiles. Perhaps because their intestines contained powerfully corrosive acids, like modern ones. This new finding provides the first definitive evidence of dinosaurs as the diet of the crocodile.
Most of the dinosaur’s skeleton was still connected after it was swallowed. The dinosaur-eating crocodile then bit down so hard that it broke one of the ornithopod’s femurs in half. And it left a tooth embedded in the other femur, researchers reported.
“It is likely that dinosaurs constituted an important resource in the Cretaceous ecological food web.”. Says the study’s lead author, Matt White. He is a research associate at the Australian Museum of the Age of Dinosaurs.