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Did You Know That Crocodiles Came Before Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, And Survived Extinction?

Published on 17 September, 2017 at 12:56 pm By

Alligators and crocodiles, in large part, look like dinosaurs, but they aren’t actually dinosaurs. Dinosaurs have existed on Earth since the Mesozoic Era – the ‘Age of Reptiles’. And there are strong indications that crocodiles existed even before that. Crocodiles still exist on most parts of the planet, and are just as scaly and scary as they used to be millions of years ago!

But as scientists recently compiled a set of bones of Razanandrongobe sakalavae, also referred to as Razana one of the earliest known ancestors of crocodiles, it proved to be testimony to the fact that modern day crocodiles have nothing on their ancient age predecessors.


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Paleoartistic restoration of the head of Razanandrongobe sakalavae.  Realtriv

Actually, Razanandrongobe sakalavae reveals a lot more about the ancient crocodiles, apart from the fact that their looks were scarily bewitching. Their structure also proves the fact that crocodiles existed on earth even much before than they were known to have existed so far.

Razana is being considered as one of the oldest notosuchians, a group of animals that had bizarre fusion of traits. It is one of the ghost lineage creatures, existence of which has been inferred but not discovered. It existed 163 million years ago, which is 42 million years before the next-oldest notosuchian scientists have known to have existed, and is quite a different beast when compared to her descendants.

 

Paleontologists Cristiano Dal Sasso (left) and Simone Maganuco (right) demonstrate a small part of the jaw of a Razana.  Sci-News/ Giovanni Bindellini

How is Razana unlike her scions? Razana existed about 100 million years before Tyrannosaurus Rex, but its teeth are not very different from the latter. Its legs are more like that of a bear or dog than the modern day crocodile.

 

T-Rex: The dinosaur which scared the hell out of everyone.

Most startling of all is its armor which perhaps was like that of an armadillo. Moreover, according to a research, it was approximately 12 meters long, even higher than a city bus making it the biggest reptile of all time.



Hence, it is quite likely that Razana was the top predator of its region and pecked at dinosaurs. In essence, Razanandrongobe sakalavae looked like it walked right out of the film ‘Godzilla’.

 

An artist’s reconstruction of Razanandrongobe sakalavae scavenging on a dinosaur carcass in Jurassic age. Fabio Manucci.

Though Razana was strikingly different from its modern day counterparts, its standardization into a crocodile took a few dozen million years, however, they still had some variations and stayed giant for a long time.

 

Supercroc Sarcosuchus, the previous record holder of size before Razana came along.  Rareresource

One such supercroc was Sarcosuchus imperatorthat can be considered as the previous record-holder for a giant-sized crocodile. It would have looked a little more similar to today’s crocodile, except for its size that was more than double of today’s crocs.

Another one was Machimosaurus rex, a saltwater crocodile which existed 120 million years ago and was 9.6 meters long. It is likely that both these giants would have feasted upon dinosaurs on a daily basis and are not very different in looks from crocodiles that exist today.

 

Representation of Machimosaurus rex.  Newhistorian

But what is it that gave such stubborn longevity to the crocodiles that they exist on the planet even today? Truth be told, no one knows the precise reason. Basically, they have remained unchanged ever since dinosaurs existed.


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It could be because of their extraordinary resilience which helped them thrive all odds. It would be interesting to know that crocodiles are capable of surviving lost limbs and other serious wounds. And their hunting habits could also be one important reason for their survival. They wait in water till the time their prey comes close and then attack with stunning precision. As long as they can interfuse in a mud-pool and as long as animals come near the water bodies to quench their thirst, crocodiles would perhaps be able to survive.

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