From the blistering sands of the Sahara, paleontologist Paul Sereno has pulled an incredible find: the nearly complete remains of Sarcosuchus imperator, one of the largest crocodilians to ever walk the Earth.
As long as a city bus, and weighing in at about ten tons, SuperCroc lives up to its nickname.
Sarcosuchus imperator, or flesh crocodile emperor, lived roughly 110 million years ago, when rivers coursed over what is now sub-Saharan Africa. Sarcosuchus prowled the rivers banks, crushing fishand other creaturesin its massive jaws.
Paleontologists first gave Sarcosuchus imperator a name in the 1960s. Four decades later, in 2000, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sereno and his team of fossil hunters found Sarcosuchus remains so enormous they dubbed the creature SuperCroc.
Sereno and his team, funded in part by the National Geographic Society, pored through the hot sands of a fossil graveyard called Gadoufaoua in Niger, unearthing scores of Sarcosuchus remains, including vertebrae, limb bones, armor plates, jaws, and a nearly complete 6-foot (1.8-meter) skull.
From their find, Sereno believes SuperCroc weighed as much as ten tons and measured as long as 40 feet (12 meters).
Now Sereno has teamed with National Geographics resident herpetologist, Brady Barr. Theyre studying todays tiny-by-comparison crocodiliansalligators, crocodiles, caimans, and gavialsto learn more about the giant SuperCroc, which is undoubtedly one of the largest crocs that ever lived.