Although crocodiles are really large reptiles and can get enormous sizes, they suffer from a prevalence of “big fish” stories and over-exaggeration. The photographs you see are often manipulated digitally to make the animal look much larger than it is. Or other techniques like the forced perspective (a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear far larger than it really is) are commonly used in these photos. So, how big the largest crocodiles are actually? Here are the largest crocodiles ever recorded.
#1. Purussaurus (10,9 meters / 36 feet)
Purussaurus was actually a caiman. It has lived in South America during the Miocene epoch, 8 million years ago. It is known from skull material found in the Brazilian, Colombian and Peruvian Amazonia, and northern Venezuela. Purussaurus is one of the largest known crocodyliforms ever to have existed. Its body length is estimated at up to 10.9 meters (about 36 feet). But, as only its skulls have been found, its actual length is not certain. It was previously estimated at 12.5 meters (41 feet) but most scientists and experts are skeptical about these proportions. The large size and estimated strength of this animal appear to have allowed it to include a wide range of prey in its diet, making it an apex predator in its ecosystem. As an adult, it would have preyed upon large to very large vertebrates with no real competition from sympatric, smaller, carnivores.
#2. Mourasuchus (up to 12 meters / 39 feet 4 in)
One of the largest prehistoric crocodiles, Mourasuchus is an extinct genus of giant crocodilians from the Miocene of South America. With an estimated length of up to twelve meters long, Mourasuchus was one of the biggest crocodiles of all time. However, despite this gigantic size, Mourasuchus had a relatively weak jaw and skull construction combined with quite small teeth for its size: the skull has been described as duck-like, being broad, flat, and very elongate. These two things do not portray an apex predator that wrestled large prey into the water. It presumably obtained its food by filter-feeding; the jaws were too gracile for the animal to have captured larger prey. It also probed the bottoms of lakes and rivers for food. Fossils have been found in the Fitzcarrald Arch of Peru, where it coexisted with many other crocodilians, including the giant gharial, Gryposuchus, and the alligatorid Purussaurus. The great diversity of crocodylomorphs in this Miocene-age (Tortonian stage, 8 million years ago).
#3. Deinosuchus (up to 12 meters / 39 feet 4 in
Deinosuchus is an extinct genus related to the alligator that lived 80 to 73 million years ago (Ma), during the late Cretaceous period. The name translates as “terrible crocodile” and is derived from the Greek deinos, “terrible”, and soukhos, “crocodile”. The first remains were discovered in North Carolina (United States) in the 1850s; the genus was named and described in 1909. Deinosuchus was far larger than any modern crocodile or alligator, with the largest adults may have been up to 12 meters (39 ft) in length and perhaps weighed as much as 8.5 metric tons (9.4 short tons). Deinosuchus’ overall appearance was fairly similar to its smaller relatives (today’s alligators).
Deinosuchus was an apex predator and probably capable of killing and eating large dinosaurs. It may have also fed upon sea turtles, fish, and other aquatic and terrestrial prey. The incredibly strong bite force of Deinosuchus has been estimated to be 18,000 N (1,835 kgf or 4,047 lbf) to 102,803 N (10,483 kgf or 23,111 lbf), which makes its bite force even stronger than that of Tyrannosaurus rex (which is estimated at about 35,000 N. For comparison, today’s largest and strongest crocodile, the saltwater crocodile has a bite force of about 16,000 N. Deinosuchus was almost the same length as Mourasuchus, but was heavier, and had much more bite force.
#5. Euthecodon brumpti and Gryposuchus croizati (~10 meters / ~33 feet)
Euthecodon brumpti was a large slender-snouted fish-eating crocodile, that was common in the lakes and rivers of Lake Turkana (Kenya) between 1 and 8 million years ago, during the Neogene. A particularly large specimen of this crocodile found at Lothagam on the west side of Lake Turkana dated to some 4 million years, was estimated to (as explained above) have been almost 10 meters (~33 feet) in length. Gryposuchus is an extinct genus of gavialoid crocodilian. It was also a slender-snouted crocodile-like Euthecodon.
Fossils have been found from Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and the Peruvian Amazon. The genus existed during the early and middle Miocene epoch. One recently described species, G. croizati, grew to an estimated length of 10 meters (33 feet).
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