Ancient crocodile feasted on dinosaurs, scientists prove

Fossilised crocodyliform found with dino remains in its stomach, proving long-held theory on prehistoric reptiles

An artist's reconstruction of Confractosuchus devouring a juvenile ornithopod. Illustration: Julius Csotonyi
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A fossilised crocodile has been found with the remains of a dinosaur in its stomach, proving that croc ancestors ate some large species of prehistoric reptiles.

When paleontologists unearthed the fossilised skeleton of a previously unknown species of crocodyliform, the specimen contained in its abdomen the exceptionally well-preserved remains of a juvenile dinosaur.

The species, called Confractosuchus sauroktonos, lived in what is now Queensland, Australia, about 95 million years ago.

Crocodyliforms include modern day crocodiles and alligators as well as their ancestors, which lived alongside dinosaurs for millions of years.

Scientists had long believed that the reptile's ancestors dined on dinosaurs when the opportunity arose, backed by previous evidence such as bite marks on fossilised dinosaur bones.

But this is only the second extinct crocodyliform fossil with identifiable stomach contents – and the first to show a dinosaur had been eaten.

The fossilised remains comprised a near-complete skull with teeth and some of its skeleton, which was missing the tail and hind limbs.

“Confractosuchus is only the second extinct crocodyliform so far discovered with identifiable abdominal contents and the first to include indisputably dinosaurian remains,” paleontologist Dr Matt White and his colleagues at the University of New England said in the Gondwana Research journal.

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Updated: February 24, 2022, 9:12 AM