Thursday, August 30, 2007

Super-sized ancient croc unveiled

I love this sort of stuff.

CROCODILE Hunter Steve Irwin never wrestled a croc like this one.

As long as a tourist bus and with jaws big enough to pick up a cow, "Sarcosuchus imperator" lived 110 million years ago and was surely the biggest, baddest crocodile to ever roam the earth.

This week its scales-and-blood likeness was unveiled by the man who first identified and named the amphibious predator based on fossil remains found in Niger more than 40 years ago.

"It is impressive to finally see this animal in the flesh - excuse me, I mean in resin," said a smiling Philippe Taquet, a paleontologist at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.

Measuring 12m from snout to tail, and weighing in at 10 tonnes, Sarco - as the beast is known among dinosaur buffs - undoubtedly chomped on big fish and small dinosaurs, dragging them into the tropical rivers that once criss-crossed what is today the Sahara.

The reconstruction of the animal by the French company Ophys required 1800 hours of work and 750kg, and was undertaken under the watchful eye of palaeontologist France de Lapparent de Broin, who co-authored with Dr Taquet the first scientific article on Sarco in 1966.

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