Unusually and possibly intelligent crocodiles shared a swampy world which is now the Sahara Desert. Researchers unearthed fossils in the area, which indicate the existence of around six species of crocodiles.
Given snazzy names such as BoarCroc, RatCroc, DogCroc, DuckCroc, and PancakeCroc, researchers say finding the fossils helps them understand further how crocodilians have managed to live successfully over the years.
These species are estimated to have lived during the Cretaceous period, 145-65 million years ago when the continents were closer together, and the world was a much warmer and wetter place.
Palaeontologist, Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal who worked on the study said, “We were surprised to find so many species from the same time in the same place. Each of the crocs apparently had different diets and different behaviors. It appears they had divided up the ecosystem, each species taking advantage of it in its own way.”
Larsson and Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago studied the jaws, teeth and few bones they unearthed of the crocodiles. They also conducted CT scans to see the inside of their skulls. The National Geographic funded the study.
DogCroc and DuckCroc, two of the newly unearthed species had brains that looked different from those of modern crocodiles. In a statement, Larsson said, “They may have had slightly more sophisticated brain function than living crocs because active hunting on land usually requires more brain power than merely waiting for prey to show up.”
RatCroc, scientifically named Araripesuchus rattoides, was found in Morocco, while PancakeCroc (Laganosuchus thaumastos) was around 20 feet long and had a big, flat head. DuckCroc, the milder of the species would probably have eaten grubs and frogs with its broad snout. BoarCroc, also 20 feet long, was the more ferocious one with three pairs of knife-like teeth.