100M Years Ago, Africa Was Crocodile Central

3 new species unearthed from Sahara include DogCroc
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2009 1:12 PM CST
University of Chicago Professor Paul Sereno, left, and McGill University Associate Professor Hans Larsson excavating the fossil skull of a 100-million-year-old croc in Niger.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The universe of diverse prehistoric crocodile species keeps expanding, suggesting crocs were one of the dominant forms of life 100 million years ago. Paleontologists have just unearthed three new species in the Sahara desert: the 20-foot BoarCroc, which likely fed on dinosaurs; the 20-foot PancakeCroc, a flat-bodied fish-gobbler; and the 3-foot herbivore known as RatCroc.

“Africa really was a world of dinosaurs and crocodiles then,” one of the National Geographic scientists who made the discoveries tells USA Today. The find reinforces the idea that the Southern hemisphere 100 million years ago was dominated by reptiles, whose interaction with the environment resembled the lives of today’s mammals more than those of the croc species still extant. “I suspect these crocodiles likely kept mammals out of these niches,” the paleontologist says.