An actual Dino-croc? A prehistoric species of crocodile has been identified by scientists in Australia that measured over 16 feet and terrorized parts of the swamps of the continent millions of years ago. Nicknamed as the ‘swamp king,’, scientists discovered the fossils of Paludirex vincenti were found back in the 1980s but the reptile was identified as a separate species only recently, Daily Mail reported.
The reptile is said to have chomped on giant prehistoric kangaroos that thrived in south Queensland, researchers found.
A skull measuring 2 feet and broad and heavy looking, scientists say the crocodile could be best described as the largest living croc ‘on steroids’.
The species is named after Geoff Vincent who discovered the giant fossilized skull near the town of Chinchilla. “Paludirex" translated to swamp king in Latin and “vincenti" is for the late Mr Vincent. The fossilized skull segment which was found by Mr Vincent was on display in the Queensland Museum before donating it to Chinchilla Museum in 2011.
“Its fossilised skull measures around 65 centimetres, so we estimate Paludirex vincenti was at least five metres long," said Jorgo Ristevski from University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences.
“The largest crocodylian today is the Indo-Pacific crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, which grows to about the same size.
Various species of prehistoric crocodylians had existed in Australia, said study co-author Steve Salisbury from University of Queensland.
“Crocs have been an important component of Australia’s fauna for millions of years," Salisbury said.
“But the two species we have today — Crocodylus porosus and Crocodylus johnstoni — are only recent arrivals, and were not part of the endemic croc fauna that existed here from about 55 million years ago." The research was published in the open access journal PeerJ.
“Whether Paludirex vincenti went extinct as a result of competition with species like Crocodylus porosus is hard to say," said Salisbury.
“The alternative is that it went extinct as the climate dried, and the river systems it once inhabited contracted — we’re currently investigating both scenarios."
Paludirex was, according to the scientists, one of the top apex predators in the southeastern Queensland during the Pliocene Epoch, between 5.33 and 2.58 million years ago. It usually used to prey on ,prehistoric kangaroos and giant wombat-like marsupials.
(With inputs from IANS)