The complete picture of an enormous prehistoric “terror crocodile” with teeth the size of bananas has finally been revealed and a new study has confirmed they preyed on even the largest of dinosaurs.
The “terror crocodiles” grew up to 10 metres long, weighed up to 5000 kilograms and lived in North America between 75 and 82 million years ago.
Scientists had previously only been able to speculate about their eating habits.
Research published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology has determined the enormous crocodylian, Deinosuchus, had the head size and crushing jaw strength to take down large prey.
“Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorised dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,” lead researcher Dr Adam Cossette said.
“Until now, the complete animal was unknown. These new specimens we’ve examined reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas.”
Three species of the “terror crocodile”, which was the largest crocodylian genera to ever exist, have been revealed in the research.
Dr Cossette said it outweighed the predatory dinosaurs that lived at the same time.
The “terror crocodile” appears to have been an opportunistic predator and ate almost everything into which it could sink its monstrous teeth, from dinosaurs to turtles.
Scientists uncertain why terror croc died out
Despite the name, the animal is more closely related to an alligator than a crocodile, but had such an enormous and oddly shaped skull it didn’t closely resemble either.
“Its snout was long and broad, but inflated at the front around the nose in a way not seen in any other crocodylian, living or extinct,” co-author and palaeontologist Professor Christopher Brochu said.
“The reason for its enlarged nose is unknown. It was a strange animal.”
Professor Brochu said the “terror crocodile” disappeared before the main mass extinction of the dinosaurs in the Mesozoic era.
“The reason for its extinction remains unknown,” he said.
The scientists involved in the research are hoping further studies will be undertaken.