The Crocodilians that hunted on land
One of the apex predators of our planet, Crocodilians of today are semi-aquatic and hunt in water.
Not evolved for a million years, Crocodilians have the same features as they did millions of years ago, virtually unchanged. But what if I tell you that they had prehistoric relatives or other family members who were adapted to hunt on land or had similarities like mammals? Well, here’s an insight on some of the crocodilian relatives.
Crocodiles, Alligators, Gharials and Caimans belong to the order Crocodilia. Despite being unchanged for millions of years, they’ve had some unusual relatives who differed from the crocodilians we see today. There are a few distinctive features that I’ll share while mentioning how they evolved as they were and seeing how beneficial it was for them and if the modern crocodilians evolved like that how it would have impacted the modern world.
Also known as the “boar croc" due to its skull morphology matching to a boar, Kaprosuchus were mahajangasuchus crocodilian that lived during The Upper Cretaceous in Niger around 100.5 to 93.9 million years ago.
Description, Hunting Behaviour And Diet
- They were almost 6 meters (19.7 ft) long.
- They weighed around 2000 pounds
- They have 3 sets of tusk-like canniform teeth that project above and below the skull.
- They could run at a speed of about 25 mph despite their size.
- They had strongly fused nasal bones which protected the jaw as they had a powerful bite force of about 2.5 tons.
- They had osteoderms across their back and neck
- Their diet consisted of small mammals and fish. Much of their diet is still unknown.
The most striking feature of Kaprosuchus is their jaw which is completely different from other crocodyliforms. They have dentition and jaw structure which shows that Kaprosuchus unlike modern crocodiles must have been a terrestrial predator.
Also called “duck croc”, due to its skull morphology resembling that of duckbills, Anatosuchus were an extinct genus of notosuchian crocodylomorphs that lived during the Lower Cretaceous with its fossils found in Gadoufaoua, Niger around 122 to 109 million years ago.
Description, Hunting, and Diet
- They had a duck-like snout which gave anatosuchus a visible nose.
- They were small crocodylomorphs with adults reaching 70 cms long.
- They had osteoderms present on the back and scutes presents on their limbs.
- Their diet consisted of small fish and other aquatic creatures supporting research that to hunt its prey it may have waded like a heron.
Also known as the “dog croc”or “rat croc", Araripesuchus is one of the well-documented crocodylomorphs that lived during The Cretaceous Period from 125 to 66 million years ago in Africa and South America.
Description, Diet, Hunting
- It was 5.9 ft long and weighed about 40 kgs
- They had large incisors like the ones seen in present day rodents.
- They had thin osteoderms throughout the body and not keeled together.
- They had long limbs, hip and ankle joints which suggested an upright posture proving that Araripesuchus might have spent more time on land than on water.
Also known as “cat croc", Pakasuchus due to its cat-like behaviour and appearance, was a small-sized crocodyliform that lived during The Mid-Cretaceous 105 million years ago in Tanzania, Africa.
Description, Hunting and Diet
- Pakasuchus were 50 cm long or (20 inches).
- They had a cat-like appearance
- They had unique dentition, which show unique heterodonty.
- Their teeth were the most interesting since they were made for chewing and slashing unlike other crocodyliforms.
- They were mostly herbivores but also hunted insects.
- They had minor osteoderms on their body and heavy osteoderms on their tails. Allowing, Pakasuchus to lead an active lifestyle.
With the fossils found, it is said that Pakasuchus’s behaviour might have been mammal-like due to the dentition which is not common amongst other members of notosuchian crocodyliforms.
The fact that such magnificent and amazing animals existed shows just how reptiles other than dinosaurs existed during the Mesozoic era. The differences between them and the modern-day crocodilians go to show just how evolution diversified such reptiles and how important they would be if they were to exist today.
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