New fossils of an ancient crocodile-like beast have been dug up by researchers. The 170 million-year-old reptilian monster was a top predator in Madagascar during a time when the earth was dominated by dinosaurs. Its massive jaw, along with serrated, steak knife-like teeth, suggest that it fed on hard animal tissue (bone, tendon, etc.), much like a Tyrannosaurus Rex did. The creature, who’s scientific name is Razanandrongobe sakalavae, would appear to be the earliest of the croc-like suborder of reptiles called Notosuchians, pre-dating other members of the suborder by 42 million years. Its name means “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region”.
Razanandrongobe sakalavae (dubbed “Razana” for short) was different from present-day crocodilians in that its legs were powerful and straightened, as well as the fact that it had a slightly different skull shape.
Going off of some skull bones, researchers infer that it had similar dimensions to its modern day relative, the saltwater crocodile, with an overall length of 22 feet at the hips and weighing about 1 ton. Researchers did not have enough fossils previously to properly classify the creature, but these new fossils have allowed this team to classify Razana as a member of a group called mesoeucrocodylians.
Researchers say that Razana was imposing enough to compete with top predatory dinosaurs of the time, and may have even fed on many of the large dinosaur species in the area.
The fossils being in Madagascar at this point in time furthers evidence that Notosuchians did indeed develop in Gondwana, which was a supercontinent made up of Madagascar, Africa, Australia, South America, in addition to other landmasses.