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Sarcosuchus
Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Order  ???
Suborder Tethysuchia
Family Pholidosauridae
Genus Sarcosuchus
1st Species Sarcosuchus imperator
2nd Species Sarcosuchus hartti
Other attributes
Time Range 133-112 mya
Location Niger
Name Meaning Flesh crocodile
Physical Dimensions 9 meters long for S.imperator
Weight 3.4 tonnes for S.imperator
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Sarcosuchus is a pholidosaurid reptile from the Early Cretaceous of Niger. It was named in 1966 by France de Lapparent de Broin and Philippe Taquet. It was one of the largest Mesozoic crocodylomorphs to exist, only beaten in size by Deinosuchus.

PhysiologyEdit

Sarcosuchus had an appearance similar to that of modern crocodylians, and bore a passing resemblance to a gharial. It had a bulky body, short legs, a long, laterally-flattened tail, a long, conical, semi-flat head with a notched, hook-like upper jaw and a bulbous snout, and eyes on the top of its head. Its body would have been covered in scaly skin, with a row of scutes running down its back.

DietEdit

Sarcosuchus was a predator, preying on sharks, gars, rays, small crocodylomorphs, small ornithischians, and smaller theropods. Its conical teeth were used for getting a hold of struggling prey, and its notched upper jaw would have helped in capturing them as well.

EcologyEdit

Like modern crocodylians, Sarcosuchus was an aquatic ambush predator, lying in wait near the surface of the water before speeding towards its prey (using its tail to propel itself through the water) and biting into them; while it mainly preyed on terrestrial ornithopod dinosaurs such as Ouranosaurus, it would have occasionally fed on fish as well. This choice of prey item helped it secure its own niche in the riverine ecosystem it lived in, and helped prevent competition with Suchomimus (which mainly ate fish, but also occasionally preyed on Ouranosaurus) as well as more terrestrial theropod predators (which typically preyed on sauropods such as Nigersaurus, but also incorporated Ouranosaurus and fish into its diet). Unlike Deinosuchus and Purussaurus, two larger crocodylomorphs, it is not very likely that Sarcosuchus would have torn prey apart via spinning, as its snout may have not been extremely well-equipped to deal with the shear forces exerted upon it during this behavior; however, it is likely that there were other ways it could have dispatched captured prey, such as drowning them or beating them against the riverbank (similarly to a false gharial). An interesting thing to note is that Sarcosuchus may have descended from marine ancestors, only secondarily adapting to a freshwater environment.

In popular cultureEdit

Sarcosuchus was introduced to the public through the 2nd episode of the 2002 documentary Chased by Dinosaurs, where it is shown as an ambush predator that attacks prey from the water's edge; as well as this, it was featured alongside many animals misplaced through time (and space), such as Argentinosaurus, Giganotosaurus (mentioned as the biggest land carnivore), Macrogryphosaurus, Tropeognathus, and Pteranodon (the latter of which was very egregious). It made two more appearances in another documentary, Planet Dinosaur, yet again misplaced through time (as it was displayed as living alongside Spinosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Paralititan). In its first appearance, it scares off a Spinosaurus that woke it up from hibernation during a drought; in its second, it tussles with a Carcharodontosaurus over a juvenile Paralititan, only to lose the struggle and flee the scene.

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