Mega Croc 7.20" Scute - Sarcosuchus Fossil
Mega Croc 7.20" Scute - Sarcosuchus Fossil
Growing as long as a school bus with a set of natural bony armor, Sarcosuchus was a true apex predator that even the dinosaurs feared. This extinct ancestor was similar to modern crocodilians, but far bigger and even more dangerous.
This specimen is a 7.20" fossilized Sarcosuchus scute, one of the bony plates that covered the animal's back. It was recovered from the Elrhaz Formation and dates back 112,000,000 years to the early Cretaceous.
Sarcosuchus - Mega Croc
In the waters of the Mesozoic, there was only one thing more terrifying than a dinosaur… the mega croc, Sarcosuchus. As big as a school bus with teeth to match, this prehistoric beast was an enormous version of its modern descendants and was a true apex predator of the river.
Sarcosuchus may look similar to our modern crocodilians, but this beast was several times larger, growing up to 40 feet long. With enormous jaws and teeth and a set of natural bony armor, it was able to take down dinosaurs as its prey and even held its own against theropod predators.
One of a Kind!
The specimen is a one of a kind fossilized Sarcosuchus scute recovered from the Elrhaz Formation in Niger. It is estimated to be 112,000,000 years old. Specimens of this size and quality are quite rare, so this is a unique item for our shop!
The Sarcosuchus's body was covered in these bony plates which acted as a suit of natural armor. They helped protect the predator during the fight with its prey and allowed them to shrug off blows from competing carnivores.
Fossils from this particular creature are very rare, but they've illuminated the life of a creature that is not too unlike its modern descendants. These massive crocodilians have been shown in paleoart for decades and are a key part of any Mesozic era collection.
Though this item is our only complete fossil, you can also find smaller fossil fragments from Sarcosuchus below!
📸 Skeleton of Sarcosuchus Imperator, exhibition in a Museum of the Natural History in Paris (Image Credit: Sergey Skleznev)
MORE ABOUT MEGA CROC Sarcosuchus
📸 Sarcosuchus waits for its prey (Artist's depiction)
The Prehistoric Super Crocodillian
Sarcosuchus was an enormous, crocodile-like, aquatic reptile that dominated freshwater rivers and lakes from the Middle Jurassic Period to the Early Cretaceous. With the largest species reaching nearly 40 feet long and weighing close to 9 tons, it should come as no surprise that Sarcosuchus feasted on a wide range of prey, from fish to land-dwelling dinosaurs.
The genus’ type species, Sarcosuchus imperator, was first discovered in 1964 during a dig in Niger’s Tenere Desert. Previously, fragments of Sarcosuchus had been found in Northern Africa, but with the discovery of a mostly intact skull, the species’ holotype was set. As Africa and South America were still linked when Sarcosuchus evolved, specimens of its other known species Sarcosuchus hartti have also been found in Brazil.
As a predator Sarcosuchus (meaning "flesh crocodile") had a large, elongated head which was dominated by the long snout that took up three quarters of its skull length. Within this snout were 35 maxillary teeth (upper jaw) and 31 dentary (lower). These teeth were stout, smooth crowns which did not interlock, allowing Sarcosuchus to take on large prey.
This style of dentition leads us to believe Sarcosuchus had a wide and varied diet, including fish and terrestrial dinosaurs. These creatures were abundant in the crocodilian's native habitat, stopping by the waterways for a drink and letting their guard down. Such diverse prey meant Sarcosuchus would travel along a network of waterways to hunt, from tropical rivers to shallow lakes, migrating to wherever their prey was waiting.
📸 A Sarosuchus Scute Fossil
A Natural suit of Armor
We know that these giant crocodile-like reptiles may have taken up to 60 years to reach adult size. This discovery was based on the analysis of thin sections of osteoderms from the trunk of an individual. These bony plates were found along the back of Sarcosuchus, from the lower neck area through to the tail and acted as a kind of natural armor. These creatures' giant size and arrested growth suggest that Sarcosuchus was able to grow to such enormous sizes by extending its period of rapid, juvenile growth.
The specimen is a fragment of a Sarcosuchus scute fossil recovered from the Elrhaz Formation in Niger. It is estimated to be 112,000,000 years old. Like the crocodiles of today, Sarcosuchus sported tough dermal armor across its body that protected it from predation, but these scutes are also of great value to paleontologists. As with other crocodyliforms, scientists use the growth rings found in bony scutes, also referred to as osteoderms, to determine the rough age of the animal.
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Clarac, F., et al. "Do the Ornamented Osteoderms Influence the Heat Conduction Through the Skin? A Finite Element Analysis in Crocodylomorpha." Journal of thermal biology 69 (2017): 39-53.
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Souza, Rafael G et al. “Systematic Revision of Sarcosuchus Hartti (Crocodyliformes) from the Recôncavo Basin (Early Cretaceous) of Bahia, North-Eastern Brazil.” Zoological journal of the Linnean Society (2019): n. pag. Web.