Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

UI professor identifies largest known crocodile

May 10, 2012
A crocodile large enough to swallow humans once lived in East Africa, according to a University of Iowa researcher.

"It's the largest known true crocodile," says Christopher Brochu, associate professor of geoscience. "It may have exceeded 27 feet in length. By comparison, the largest recorded Nile crocodile was less than 21 feet, and most are much smaller."

Brochu's paper on the discovery of a new crocodile species was just published in the May 3 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The new species lived between 2 and 4 million years ago in Kenya. It resembled its living cousin, the Nile crocodile, but was more massive.

He recognized the new species from fossils that he examined three years ago at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi. Some were found at sites known for important human fossil discoveries. "It lived alongside our ancestors, and it probably ate them," Brochu says. He explains that although the fossils contain no evidence of human/reptile encounters, crocodiles generally eat whatever they can swallow, and humans of that time period would have stood no more than four feet tall.

"We don't actually have fossil human remains with croc bites, but the crocs were bigger than today's crocodiles, and we were smaller, so there probably wasn't much biting involved," Brochu says.

He adds that there likely would have been ample opportunity for humans to encounter crocs. That's because early man, along with other animals, would have had to seek water at rivers and lakes where crocodiles lie in wait.

Regarding the name he gave to the new species, Brochu said there was never a doubt.

The crocodile Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni is named after John Thorbjarnarson, famed crocodile expert and Brochu's colleague who died of malaria while in the field several years ago.

"He was a giant in the field, so it only made sense to name a giant after him," Brochu says. "I certainly miss him, and I needed to honor him in some way. I couldn't not do it."

Among the skills needed for one to discover a new species of crocodile is, apparently, a keen eye.

Not that the fossilized crocodile head is small-it took four men to lift it. But other experts had seen the fossil without realizing it was a new species. Brochu points out that the Nairobi collection is "beautiful" and contains many fossils that have been incompletely studied. "So many discoveries could yet be made," he says.

In fact, this isn't the first time Brochu has made a discovery involving fossils from eastern Africa. In 2010, he published a paper on his finding a man-eating horned crocodile from Tanzania named Crocodylus anthropophagus-a crocodile related to his most recent discovery.

Brochu says Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni is not directly related to the present-day Nile crocodile. This suggests that the Nile crocodile is a fairly young species and not an ancient "living fossil," as many people believe. "We really don't know where the Nile crocodile came from," Brochu says, "but it only appears after some of these prehistoric giants died out."

The work was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

University of Iowa


Related Crocodile Current Events and Crocodile News Articles


Crocodile ancestor was top predator before dinosaurs roamed North America
A newly discovered crocodilian ancestor may have filled one of North America's top predator roles before dinosaurs arrived on the continent.

Skull reconstruction sheds new light on tetrapod transition from water to land
360 million-year-old tetrapods may have been more like modern crocodiles than previously thought, according to 3D skull reconstruction. The results publish March 11, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Laura Porro from University of Bristol, UK, and colleagues.

Fossil skull sheds new light on transition from water to land
The first 3D reconstruction of the skull of a 360 million-year-old near-ancestor of land vertebrates has been created by scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, UK.

Crocs rocked pre-Amazonian Peru
Thirteen million years ago, as many as seven different species of crocodiles hunted in the swampy waters of what is now northeastern Peru, new research shows.

University of Tennessee study: Crocodiles just wanna have fun, too
Turns out we may have more in common with crocodiles than we'd ever dream. According to research by a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, crocodiles think surfing waves, playing ball and going on piggyback rides are fun, too.

DNA sheds light on why largest lemurs disappeared
Ancient DNA extracted from the bones and teeth of giant lemurs that lived thousands of years ago in Madagascar may help explain why the giant lemurs went extinct.

'Big bang' of bird evolution mapped by international research team
The genomes of modern birds tell a story: Today's winged rulers of the skies emerged and evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and almost everything else 66 million years ago.

Genomic analysis, key to understanding bird evolution
66 million years ago, the dinosaurs, as we think about them, became extinct, but certain reptiles and birds survived this mass extinction.

Texas Tech biologist leads group that mapped crocodilian genomes
A Texas Tech University biologist led a team of more than 50 scientists who mapped the genomes of three crocodilians.

International team maps 'big bang' of bird evolution
The first findings of the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium are being reported nearly simultaneously in 28 papers -- eight papers in a Dec. 12 special issue of Science and 20 more in Genome Biology, GigaScience and other journals. The full set of papers in Science and other journals can be accessed at avian.genomics.cn
More Crocodile Current Events and Crocodile News Articles

Crocodiles & Alligators

Crocodiles & Alligators
by Seymour Simon (Author)


Crocodiles and alligators may seem ferocious and scary, but renowned science author Seymour Simon confirms that they′re also endlessly fascinating. Around since the time of dinosaurs, crocodiles and alligators eat without chewing, have three eyelids, and provide good living conditions for other animals. With the use of eighteen stunning full-colour photographs, Simon explores the wonders of these stealthy giants in an exciting up-close and personal way. Ages 8+

The Enormous Crocodile

The Enormous Crocodile
by Roald Dahl (Author)


The Enormous Crocodile is a horrid greedy grumptious brute who loves to guzzle up little boys and girls. But the other animals have had enough of his cunning tricks, so they scheme to get the better of this foul fiend, once and for all!

National Geographic Readers: Alligators and Crocodiles

National Geographic Readers: Alligators and Crocodiles
by Laura Marsh (Author)


A pair of eyes lurks just above the water's surface. Is it a crocodile or an alligator?  Packed with beautiful and engaging photos, kids will learn all about these two reptiles—and find out what makes them different. This Level 2 reader provides both accessible and wide-ranging text to encourage the scientists and explorers of tomorrow!

Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, Book 1)

Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, Book 1)
by Elizabeth Peters (Author)


Set in 1884, this is the first installment in what has become a beloved bestselling series. At thirty-two, strong-willed Amelia Peabody, a self-proclaimed spinster, decides to use her ample inheritance to indulge her passion, Egyptology. On her way to Egypt, Amelia encounters a young woman named Evelyn Barton-Forbes. The two become fast friends and travel on together, encountering mysteries, missing mummies, and Radcliffe Emerson, a dashing and opinionated archaeologist who doesn't need a woman's help -- or so he thinks.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Storybook Treasury (Lyle the Crocodile)

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Storybook Treasury (Lyle the Crocodile)
by Bernard Waber (Author)


Every home should have a crocodile!Splish, splash. Over fifty years ago, the Primms moved into the house on East 88th street and found a crocodile soaking in the bathtub. Since then, Lyle has won the hearts of all he meets. This anniversary collection features an introduction by Bernard Waber, Lyle’s creator, an MP3 download of Mr.Waber reading Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, and four complete books:The House on East 88th StreetLyle, Lyle, CrocodileLyle and the Birthday PartyLyle Walks the Dogs

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (Lyle the Crocodile)

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (Lyle the Crocodile)
by Bernard Waber (Author)


A cranky neighbor puts Lyle in the zoo but experiences a change of heart when the crocodile saves him from a fire.

Crocodile 250 Success Secrets - 250 Most Asked Questions On Crocodile - What You Need To Know

Crocodile 250 Success Secrets - 250 Most Asked Questions On Crocodile - What You Need To Know
by Nathan Herrera (Author)


An Unbeatable Crocodile Guide. There has never been a Crocodile Guide like this. It contains 250 answers, much more than you can imagine; comprehensive answers and extensive details and references, with insights that have never before been offered in print. Get the information you need--fast! This all-embracing guide offers a thorough view of key knowledge and detailed insight. This Guide introduces what you want to know about Crocodile. A quick look inside of some of the subjects covered: Saltwater crocodile - Attacks on humans, Crocodile cracking, Sir Crocodile - Foxy Pirates, List of characters from Kung Fu Panda - Crocodile Sergeant, Sir Crocodile - Kuja, Sir Crocodile - Koby, Captain Smoker - Crocodile, Sir Crocodile - Red-Haired Pirates, Captain Kuro - Crocodile, Crocodile Dundee -...

Counting Crocodiles

Counting Crocodiles
by Judy Sierra (Author), Will Hillenbrand (Illustrator)


Poor Monkey. All she has to eat are sour lemons. One day she spies a banana tree on a faraway island, but the only way to get there is to navigate the crocodile-infested waters of the Sillabobble Sea. That’s no problem when you’re a brave and clever monkey who can count to ten and back!


Scholastic Reader Level 3: Snap! A Book About Alligators and Crocodiles

Scholastic Reader Level 3: Snap! A Book About Alligators and Crocodiles
by Melvin Berger (Author), Gilda Berger (Author)


What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? How are they born? Find out the answers to these questions and many more in this Level 3 Hello Reader! Science book!

Did you know that a crocodile is usually longer, weighs more, and can outswim alligators? Children will learn all about these aquatic creatures--everything from where they live, what they eat, and how they survive--in this non-fiction easy reader.

Renowned authors Melvin and Gilda Berger have created yet another fascinating science book. With simple, accessible text and brilliant photographs, SNAP! A BOOK ABOUT ALLIGATORS AND CROCODILES is sure to be a big hit with parents and teachers alike!

The Crocodile (World Noir)

The Crocodile (World Noir)
by Maurizio de Giovanni (Author)


This is Naples as you’ve never seen it before. A chaotic, shadowy city full of ominous echoes and dark alleyways where each inhabitant seems too absorbed by his or her own problems to give a damn about anybody else. And that is exactly what makes it possible for a cold, methodical killer to commit his atrocious crimes largely undisturbed, to merge with the crowd as if he were invisible. The newspapers call him “The Crocodile” because, like a crocodile, when he devours his own children, he cries. And like a crocodile he is a perfect killing machine: he waits and watches until his prey is within range, and then he strikes.

Three young people with very diverse backgrounds have been found murdered in three different neighborhoods, each shot with a single bullet, execution style....

© 2015 BrightSurf.com