Deinosuchus

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Deinosuchus
Temporal range: Upper Cretaceous
Life restoration of Deinosuchus rugosus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Infraclass: Archosauria
Order: Crocodilia
Suborder: Eusuchia
Superfamily: Alligatoroidea
Genus: Deinosuchus
Holland, 1909
This skull reconstruction, exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History for nearly a half-century, is probably the best known of all Deinosuchus fossils. The darker shaded portions are actual fossil bone, while the light portions are plaster.

Deinosuchus is an extinct relative of the alligator which lived 80 to 73 million years ago, in the Upper Cretaceous period.

The first remains were discovered in North Carolina in the 1850s, but it was not until 1909 that the genus was named and described.

Additional fragments were discovered in the 1940s and were later made into an influential, but inaccurate, skull reconstruction at the American Museum of Natural History. Knowledge of Deinosuchus is still incomplete, but better skull material has been found in recent years.

Although Deinosuchus was far larger than any modern crocodile or alligator—measuring up to 12 m (40 ft) and weighing up to 8.5 metric tons (9.4 short tons)—its overall appearance was fairly similar to its modern relatives.

It had large, robust teeth that were built for crushing, and its back was covered with thick round bony plates. One study indicates that Deinosuchus may have lived for up to 50 years, growing at a similar rate to that of modern crocodilians, but maintaining this growth over a much longer period of time.

Deinosuchus fossils have been found in ten U.S. states, as well as northern Mexico. It lived on both sides of the Western Interior Seaway, and was an ambush apex predator in the coastal regions of eastern North America.

Deinosuchus reached its largest size in its western habitat, but the eastern populations were far more abundant. Opinion remains divided as to whether these two populations represent separate species. Deinosuchus was probably capable of killing and eating large dinosaurs.[1][2][3] It may have also fed upon sea turtles, fish, and other aquatic and terrestrial prey.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Colbert, Edwin H. (1961). Dinosaurs: their discovery and their world. E.P. Dutton. p. 243.
  2. Debus, Allen (2002). Dinosaur memories. Authors Choice Press. p. 265. ISBN 0-595-22988-3.
  3. Brochu, Christopher A. (2003). "Review of King of the Crocodylians: the paleobiology of Deinosuchus". Palaios 18 (1): 79–82. doi:10.1669/0883-1351(2003)018<0080:BR>2.0.CO;2.