5 "Oddball" Crocs Discovered, Including Dinosaur-Eater

A "saber-toothed cat in armor" and a pancake-shaped predator are among the strange crocodile cousins whose bones have been found beneath the windswept dunes of the Sahara, archaeologists say.

The diverse menagerie of reptiles ruled Gondwana—a landmass that later broke up into the southern continents—about a hundred million years ago, during the Cretaceous period.

"There's an entire croc world brewing in Africa that we really had only an inkling about before," said Paul Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago and leader of a new study.

"We knew about SuperCroc, the titan of all crocs, but we didn't have quite an idea of what existed in the shadows of the Cretaceous," he said.

Ancient crocodile cousins—called crocodilyforms—were not widespread in the Northern Hemisphere. But the south blossomed with bizarre riffs on the croc theme, added Sereno, also a National Geographic explorer-in-residence.

(The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

The team found three new species, nicknamed PancakeCroc, BoarCroc, and RatCroc, as well as new skeletons of the previously named DuckCroc and DogCroc.

"There's more to a croc than meets the eye of a living person," Sereno said. "We have crocs here [in what was once Gondwana] that ate plants and galloped and ate dinosaurs and were flat as a board."

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