Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fossil Find: 'Godzilla' Crocodile Had Head Of A Dinosaur, Fins Like A Fish

Date:
November 11, 2005
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered evidence of an ancient sea creature that would have made Tyrannosaurus rex, think twice before stepping into the ocean. At the southern tip of South America, they found fossils of an entirely new species of ancient crocodile -- one whose massive jaws and jagged teeth would have made it the most fearsome predator in the sea.

Photos of Dakosaurus andiniensis skull, with diagrams and a close-up view of the teeth -- including a microscopic view of one tooth's serrated edge. (Figure courtesy of Diego Pol, Ohio State University)

Researchers have discovered evidence of an ancient sea creature that would have made Tyrannosaurus rex, think twice before stepping into the ocean.

Related Articles


At the southern tip of South America , they found fossils of an entirely new species of ancient crocodile – one whose massive jaws and jagged teeth would have made it the most fearsome predator in the sea.

Unlike the crocodiles we know today, Dakosaurus andiniensis lived entirely in the water, and had fins instead of legs. But that's not all that made it unusual. Two other features – its hefty size and T. rex-like snout – have earned it a unique place in history – and the nickname “Godzilla.”

Diego Pol, a postdoctoral researcher at the Mathematical Biosciences Institute and the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Ohio State University , determined that the oddly shaped fossil specimens found in Patagonia belong on the crocodile family tree.

“This species was very unusual, because other marine crocodiles that were around at the same time had very delicate features – long, skinny snouts and needle-like teeth for catching small fish and mollusks,” he said. “But this croc was just the opposite. It had a short snout, and large teeth with serrated edges. It was definitely a predator of large sea creatures.”

Paleontologists Zulma Gasparini and Luis Spalletti of the National University of La Plata in Argentina uncovered the crocodile's fossil bones in Patagonia ; Pol used sophisticated software to map the features of those bones and determine its lineage. Together, they describe the creature in the latest issue of the journal Science.

It measured 13 feet from nose to tail. Its jaws were a foot-and-a-half long, with interlocking serrated teeth up to four inches long.

There were many other sizes of marine crocodile species alive 135 million years ago, toward the end of the Jurassic, but all had long snouts and needle-like teeth. None were larger than D. andiniensis, and none were as robust.

Yet, Pol found that the gargantuan crocodile was more closely related to the smallest of its brethren than any of the larger species. The shape of the nostrils, eye sockets, and other areas of the skull combined with a telltale groove in its jaw to prove its lineage.

“This is the most remarkable change in the size and shape of the teeth and snout in the history of marine crocs,” Pol said.

The three fossil specimens were found in 1996 – one on farmland in the Mendoza province of Patagonia , and two in a rock formation in Neuquιn province to the south. During the time that D. andiniensis was alive, the region was a deep tropical bay of the Pacific Ocean .

The researchers don't yet know what events triggered the relatively sudden emergence of the large crocodile, but the size and shape of the teeth indicate that it probably fed on other marine reptiles and large sea creatures in the bay instead of small fish.

The National Geographic Society funded this research, and will feature D. andiniensis in the December 2005 issue of National Geographic Magazine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Fossil Find: 'Godzilla' Crocodile Had Head Of A Dinosaur, Fins Like A Fish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051110221017.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2005, November 11). Fossil Find: 'Godzilla' Crocodile Had Head Of A Dinosaur, Fins Like A Fish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051110221017.htm
Ohio State University. "Fossil Find: 'Godzilla' Crocodile Had Head Of A Dinosaur, Fins Like A Fish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051110221017.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) — Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins