Scientists have discovered fossils of a prehistoric crocodile in Madagascar that had enormous serrated teeth similar to those of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus-Rex dinosaur.
The full name of the predatory crocodyliform is Razanandrongobe sakalavae, which means "giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region."
Deep and massive jawbones armed with enormous serrated teeth that are similar in size and shape to those of a T-rex strongly suggest that these animals also fed on hard tissue such as bone and tendon.
"Like these and other gigantic crocs from the Cretaceous, 'Razana' could outcompete even theropod dinosaurs, at the top of the food chain," said Cristiano Dal Sasso, of the Natural History Museum of Milan in Italy.
Razanandrongobe sakalavae is by far the oldest - and possibly the largest - representative of the Notosuchia, documenting one of the earliest events of exacerbated increase in body size along the evolutionary history of the group.
"Its geographic position during the period when Madagascar was separating from other landmasses is strongly suggestive of an endemic lineage," said Simone Maganuco from the Natural History Museum of Milan.
"At the same time, it represents a further signal that the Notosuchia originated in southern Gondwana (the ancient supercontinent)," Maganuco said.
The research was published in the journal PeerJ.
This is not the first time that fossils of a prehistoric crocodile have been found. In 2016, a fossil of the largest sea-dwelling crocodile (over 30 feet long) was found in the Tunisian desert. Palaeontologists dubbed the 3-tonne reptile, "Machimosaurus rex" and published their findings in the journal Cretaceous Research.
Here is a National Geographic illustration of the Machimosaurus rex:
Artist's rendition of Machimosaurus rex. (Source: National Geographic)
(With PTI inputs)