A recent study claims that roughly about 210 million years ago, in the Triassic period in southern parts of Africa lived giant, Crocodile-like creatures that fed on primitive dinosaurs. According to Rick Tolchard, from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, these creatures, named as the 'Rauisuchias' preyed on early herbivore dinosaurs and their mammal relatives living at the time.
Tolchard stated that Rauisuchians' fossils provided them with evidence of how at least two predator species hunted these herbivorous dinosaurs 210 million years ago. These ancient creatures have left astonishing clues behind in the form of fossilized teeth, jaws, limbs and other fossils that help them formulate the ancient story of life in southern Africa, 210 million years ago.
The Journal of African Earth Sciences describes these ancient fossils that include teeth, pieces of jaws, hind limbs and body armour, all of which can be identified as parts of Rauisuchias. It explains that these prehistoric creatures were closely related to the crocodile family. Researchers also claim that Rauisuchias had diverse body types during the Triassic period.
The research reveals specimens including some of the largest carnivorous members of this group, that were possibly up to 10 meters long, with huge skulls full of serrated, curved teeth. The study shows that the Rauisuchias were some of the latest-surviving members of their group, and when they were on the planet, their population thrived everywhere except in regions near the Antarctic Circle, which was the theoretical limit for their physiology.
Tolchard also claims that in the Triassic period, Rauisuchias were widespread and their fossils are known from all continents of the world, except Antarctica as their body type wasn’t adaptable to the climatic conditions. He also added that the creatures went extinct about 200 million years ago, paving the way for dinosaurs to become the dominant large land animals.
Jonah Choiniere, Rick's advisor and Professor at the Wits Evolutionary Studies Institute said that Rick's study demonstrates the value of re-examining old specimens, and they finally know what was preying on all those herbivorous dinosaurs 210 million years ago.