FOSSIL ELOSUCHUS CROCODILE
We have recently listed some amazing crocodile fossils among which is a highly important Elosuchus jaw element. This consists of 24 teeth in a three-dimensional Elosuchus imperator Crocodile Jaw discovered in the Cretaceous layers often referred to as De Ksar-es-Souk fossil beds, Kem Kem region, Taouz, the Province of
Errachidia, North Africa. The jaw is a jewel of scientific information, as the lower jaw section is not crushed and has not suffered any distortion in the fossil bedding plane. The form is as it was laid down over 100 million years ago.
It is thought that Elosuchus, commonly known as Super crocodiles hunted in the freshwater lagoons and swamp margins of North Africa, what is now today a seemingly arid desert region of the northern Sahara ténéré or the Tiniri as the indigenous Berbers name the region. The tiniri is the vast wilderness stretching from Niger in the south to Mauritania in the west, Morocco in the north and Egypt in the east, the greater Western Desert of Northern Sahara.
A Berber and Touareg land once crisscrossed by caravan routes, now along with the prehistoric animals that once lived here, all are extinct. As the tiniri rarely gives up its prehistoric treasures, we find rare opportunity to gain a fossil crocodile fossil elements of importance and also of excellent scientific value.
From the beginning of the twentieth century when bones and teeth of prehistoric vertebrates, including crocodiles, were uncovered, up to the middle of the twentieth century when Elosuchus fossils were discovered by France de Broin and Phillipe Taquet in 1964, this described as a type. And to even later, just before the turn of the twenty-first century when Paul Sereno of the museum of Chicago unearthed with his team in the Ténéré southeast of Agadez, at Gadoufaoua, Niger., Elosuchus remains. These latest and most fruitful fossils included vertebrae, bones, scute
plates (dermal plates which lay just under the skin, giving the archetypical dimpled look to crocodilians leathery-looking hide), jaw elements and teeth and a near-complete six-foot skull (1.8 metres). Enough material to identify Elosuchus as a gigantic Cretaceous predator. which Sereno then proceeded to rebuild with dramatic effect, in fact, to name Elosuchus the largest crocodilian hunter of the Cretaceous period.
Today as the Elosuchus story continues to unfold. The accumulated knowledge suggests an even greater size for Elosuchus. This dinosaur-killing reptile which may have terrorised the swamps and lagoons of a hundred million years ago ranged far. As science has so far ascertained with any degree of accuracy it's home was Africa and yet possibly fossils have been found in Brazil. The landmass Pangaea began to break up around 175 m.y.a.
In the Early Cretaceous 150–140 m.y.a. the supercontinent of Gondwana separated and Africa and South America began to drift apart. Elosuchus’s range is found in the Aptian 126 - 113 m.y.a. to Albian 113 - 100 m.y.a. ages of the early Cretaceous period. Did Elosuchus range across the whole landmass? The Elosuchus blueprint. Elosuchus imperator weighed as much as ten tons and measured as much as 40 feet (12 metres) in length. Other fossil genera of crocodiles have been discovered in this region, Stomatosuchus (Mouth crocodile), named by Ernst Stromer, 1925. Famously the describer of Spinosaurus aegypticus (the infamous sailed back fish-eating dinosaur of the same lagoon region), and Laganosuchus (Pancake crocodile) and Kaprosuchus (Boar crocodile), both described by Paul Sereno & Hans Larsson, later in 2009.
As the ténéré rarely gives up its prehistoric treasures, few and far between are the opportunities to gain very good fossil crocodile elements of important size and also scientifically valuable. Much more knowledge will come out of Africa, the author is sure of that. The vast tiniri may well produce more crocodiles skeletons to terrorise our imaginations.