Washington, July 5: Scientists have discovered fossils belonging to an ancient, extinct crocodile relative that has deep and massive jaw bones armed with enormous serrated teeth like those of a T-rex.
According to a new study published in the journal PeerJ on Tuesday, the animal found in Madagascar in Africa was a top land predator of the Middle Jurassic period, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
Its jaw bones and serrated teeth strongly suggested that just like T-rex, it also fed on hard tissue such as bone and tendon.
These anatomical features led the researchers to believe that it is a Jurassic notosuchian, close to the South American baurusuchids and sebecids, that were highly specialized predators of terrestrial habits, but different from present-day crocodilians in having a deep skull and powerful erect limbs.
The full name of the predatory crocodyliform is called Razanandrongobe sakalavae, which means “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region.”
Nicknamed Razana, the animal is believed to be the oldest and possibly the largest representative of a group of crocodile-like animals called Notosuchians.
“Like these and other gigantic crocs from the Cretaceous, ‘Razana’ could outcompete even theropod dinosaurs, at the top of the food chain”, Cristiano Dal Sasso, of the Natural History Museum of Milan, said in a statement.
“In actual fact, it contributes to filling in a gap in the group’s evolution, which contains a long ghost lineage in the Jurassic,” the paper wrote. “It documents a dramatic, somewhat unexpected, size increase in the early history of the group.”