The excavation site of the first specimen of the new crocodile-like species, Machimosaurus rex. These fossils were found in the Tataouine region of southern Tunisia, on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
Federico Fanti/Bologna University

Week in Geek: Giant reptile edition

In a recently published paper in the Cretaceous Research journal (yes, you read that correctly), a team paleontologists report finding the fossilized bones of a giant crocodile in the Tunisian desert which overturns the accepted theory that its class of replies went extinct at the end of the Jurassic Period.

Based on fossil findings, the crocodile was an estimated 30 feet in length and likely weighed up to three tons. It has been christened Machimosaurus rex. Members of its group were thought to have gone extinct over 150 million years ago, but the fossil has been dated to 130 million years ago, so paleontologist will need to re-examine their evidence to explain this discrepancy.

Reconstruction of M. rex body based on preserved elements.
Reconstruction of M. rex body based on preserved elements. 
Marco Auditore/Fanti, F., et al.,/Cretaceous Research

Meanwhile try to imagine what it must have been like to have this thing swim up along side you back then. This figure shows a scuba diver along side an illustration of one for reference (the skull is also blown up for detail). And if you really want to get a sense of this croc in its natural habitat, check out the works of scientific illustrator, Davide Bonadonna (third image in). I think I’ll stick to swimming pools from now on.

National Geographic put together a great short video on this exciting news.

Here’s some more geek from the week:

Keep on geeking!

@Summer_Ash, In-house Astrophysicist


Rachel Maddow Show Geek

Week in Geek: Giant reptile edition