Navigation Links
UI professor identifies largest known crocodile
Date:5/9/2012

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 smallit 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 anthropophagusa 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."


'/>"/>

Contact: Gary Galluzzo
gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu
319-384-0009
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. National Science Foundation grants Clemson professors award to develop nanoprobes
2. University professor stresses links between US Navy sonar and whale strandings
3. Minnesota ecology professor wins international award for biodiversity and biofuels research
4. NJIT professors research suggests changes in underwater data communications
5. 2 Alexander von Humboldt professorships go to LMU Munich
6. Top biophysics award to Professor Ray Norton
7. University of Leicester professor adds new perspective to rainforest debate
8. NJIT professor finds engineering technique to identify disease-causing genes
9. Chemistry professor 1 of only 3 at UH to achieve prestigious AAAS status
10. Florida professor creates endowment for insect scientists
11. Dinner, lecture series to honor legacy of distinguished UH professor
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/20/2017)... Germany , March 20, 2017 At this ... Hamburg -based biometrics manufacturer DERMALOG. The Chancellor came to the DERMALOG ... is this year,s CeBIT partner country. At the largest German ... biometrics in use: fingerprint, face and iris recognition as well as DERMALOG´s ... ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... -- CeBIT 2017 - Against identity fraud with DERMALOG solutions "Made in ... ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity fraud. (PRNewsFoto/Dermalog ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide ... ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... Australia , March 9, 2017 ... the prestigious World Lung Imaging Workshop at the University ... , was invited to deliver the latest data to ... globally recognised event brings together leaders at the forefront ... developments in lung imaging. "The quality ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... March 28, 2017 , ... Ecovia ... Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Under the ... to develop a suite of BioGel™ biopolymer materials for hygiene applications, particularly for ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... -- The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) today announced that Ipsen ... as its newest member. David Cox , PhD, ... America ), will serve as his company,s representative ... to have Ipsen and Dr. Cox join NPC as ... welcome their insights in helping us identify and address ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Currently symptomatic therapies for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) ... in STEM CELLS suggests that human neural stem cell (hNSC) transplantation could help ... neural cells. , Strategies involving transplantation of these cells into the affected ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... March 28, 2017 , ... Executive search ... with Avomeen Analytical Services. Harvill is a distinguished life sciences expert with a ... is a leader in a wide range of services related to laboratory testing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: