TECH

Crocodile ‘on Steroids’: Scientists Identify Ancient ‘Swamp King’ Reptile

The formidable reptile feasted on prehistoric kangaroos and wombats in Australia’s north-eastern state of Queensland during the Pliocene Epoch, between 5.33 and 2.58 million years ago, according to a new study.

Australian palaeontologists discovered a new species of prehistoric crocodile dubbed a “swamp king” after they took a closer look at a well-preserved fossil skull that was unearthed in the 1980s near the remote town of Chinchilla in Queensland.

The ancient reptile-related study by PhD student Jorgo Ristevski and his colleagues at the University of Queensland was published in the journal PeerJ earlier this week.

The new species was officially named Paludirex Vincenti in honour of the late explorer Jeff Vincent, who originally found the fossilised skull of the prehistoric predator.

/ Alexander Cahlenstein / Lurking crocodile
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Ristevski told PeerJ that the lakes, rivers, and swamps of south-eastern Queensland “were once very dangerous because of Paludirex”, which preyed on giant prehistoric kangaroos and wombats.

The researcher described the crocodile as one of “the top predators in southeastern Queensland during the Pliocene Epoch, between 5.33 and 2.58 million years ago”.

“If you were to imagine Paludirex Мincenti in life, it would probably have resembled a [modern] Indo-Pacific crocodile on steroids!” Ristevski said, adding that “the intimidating croc” could grow to at least five metres.

According to Ristevski, he realised the fact that he had managed to discover the new species as he worked on his thesis, exploring the fossilised skull with the help of CT scans which helped him reconstruct the skull structure.

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