An enormous 16-foot long crocodile nicknamed the "swamp king" that terrorized ancient waters a few million years ago has been identified.
The new species of prehistoric reptile, Paludirex vincenti (which in Latin means "swamp king Vincent," after the late fossil collector Geoff Vincent) was discovered in Queensland, Australia, in the 1980s. It was only recently that researchers really examined the fossilized 25-inch-long skull to get an idea of the size of the beast.
"The 'swamp king' was one intimidating croc," the study's lead author, University of Queensland Ph.D. candidate Jorgo Ristevski, said in a statement.
"Its fossilized skull measures around 65 centimeters, so we estimate Paludirex vincenti was at least five meters long. The largest crocodylian today is the Indo-Pacific crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, which grows to about the same size. But Paludirex had a broader, more heavy-set skull so it would've resembled an Indo-Pacific crocodile on steroids."
It's believed that the enormous head allowed the massive reptile to hunt giant prehistoric marsupials, making it one of the top predators of its time.
"The waterways of the Darling Downs would once have been a very dangerous place because of it," Ristevski added.
The research was published in the scientific journal PeerJ.
Researchers have learned a great deal about ancient crocodiles in recent months. In June, experts identified footprints from a 13-foot crocodile that lived between 110 and 120 million years ago and walked on two legs,
In February, a "bone-crushing" 7-foot long crocodile -- nicknamed the "T. Rex of its time" -- that walked on all fours but used its hind legs to run 230 million years ago, was discovered in Brazil.
In September 2019, fossils of a 30-foot crocodile-like creature that lived 210 million years ago and ate herbivore dinosaurs and mammals were discovered in southern Africa. Separately in September 2019, the identity of a massive, 15-foot prehistoric crocodile that lived 180 million years ago was properly identified nearly 250 years after its fossils were first discovered.
In September 2018, researchers discovered an ancient type of crocodile that lived during the Jurassic Period.