Huge crocodile-like reptile roamed the Earth before dinosaurs took over

Animal’s name means “predator crocodile”, and it had huge knife-like teeth

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 21 January 2015 11:24 GMT

A new prehistoric giant reptile has been found. The giant crocodile-like animal was 9 feet long, had huge teeth like steak knives and roamed the world before dinosaurs took over it.

It has bony plates on its back, like a crocodile, and legs that lie underneath the body.

The new animal, known as Nundasuchus, was found by a researcher at Virginia Tech. It is not a dinosaur, but one of the large reptiles that roamed the Earth before dinosaurs took over it.

“The full name is actually Nundasuchus songeaensis,” said Sterling Nesbitt, the assistant professor of geological sciences who found the animal. “It’s Swahili mixed with Greek.”

A reconstruction of the Nundasuchus, a 9-foot-long carnivorous reptile with steak knife-like teeth

The basic meaning is Nunasuchus is “predator crocodile”, and the songeaensis refers to the town where the bones were found. The remains wer ediscovered in southwestern Tanzania, during a dig for birds and crocodiles.

"The reptile itself was heavy-bodied with limbs under its body like a dinosaur, or bird, but with bony plates on its back like a crocodilian,” said Nesbitt.

The findings have been reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Nesbitt and others found the bones in 2007, when he was a graduate student, but have been working ever since to piece the thousands of pieces together. Most of the skull has still not been found, despite three trips to the site and a reported 1,000 hours of time spent finding parts and putting them together.

Nesbitt said that he knew within 30 seconds of finding the first bone that it was a new species.

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