Also Called: Terrible Crocodile
Deinosuchus (pronounced DINE-oh-SUE-kus) was a 30-foot long, crocodilian predator that lived along the edges of the inland shallow seas and brackish swamplands during the Late Cretaceous Period. Experts believe that Deinosuchus was once as common as modern day alligators are today.
Deinosuchus had a 6-foot long jaw with more than 100 slightly curved, bone crunching teeth. Once, experts believed the jaws were narrow, similar to a modern day crocodile, but now believe that its snout was broad, more like that of a modern day alligator. Through most of its range, and in its habitat, it was probably the top predator, successfully competing with, and even hunting, the large meat eating dinosaurs of its time.
Deinosuchus fed on animals living in and near the water. Some experts believe that Deinosuchus laid in wait, completely submerged in the water, except for its eyes – just watching! When animals (even large carnivorous meat eating dinosaurs) came to the waters edge to drink, Deinosuchus lunged out, grabbed its prey, and dragged it back into the water to drown, as it ripped large chunks of flesh from the flailing preys’ bones.
These attacks were not always successful. Crocodile teeth marks are have been found on dinosaur bones.
Deinosuchus lived in the swamps of Texas toward the end of the Cretaceous period. It probably ambushed passing dinosaurs, lying very still and grabbing its prey in the same way as the modern Nile crocodile seizes mammals and birds that come to the water's edge to drink.
Some scientists, however, dispute this lifestyle. They suggest that Deinosuchus was a smaller, short bodied, long-legged predator that lived on land. Until more of the skeleton is found, the way of life of this giant crocodile will remain uncertain.
Fossils of this late Cretaceous reptile have been found in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.