Prehistoric Crocodyliform Discovered in Spain

A new genus and species of crocodyliform has been discovered in Catalonia, Spain, from a partial skeleton. Hailing from the Cretaceous period, this animal brings us a fascinating picture of the ecosystems of prehistoric Spain in the last era of the dinosaurs.

Named “Ogresuchus furatus“, (Literally referencing the fact that it looks like an ogre), this animal lived approximately 72 million years ago. Based on a partial upper jaw discovered, paleontologists can accurately state that Ogresuchus was an active predator. Coming in at around 4 feet long and 10 kilograms in weight, Ogresuchus is actually one of the smallest within its family, the sebechosuchids. This is explained however, by Ogresuchus’s excitingly unusual diet.

My own reconstruction of Ogresuchus furatus.

This particular Ogresuchus specimen was actually found within a known titanosaur nesting site, which insinuates that this animal could have terrorized the nesting sites of such giant dinosaurs as the titanosaur Hypselosaurus, preying on helpless infant sauropods. Evolutionarily, this animal is quite unique. Unlike the vast majority of crocodyliforms, Ogresuchus actually has arms extending straight down from its torso, and not out horizontally and then straight down like modern crocodiles for example. This adaptation would have meant that Ogresuchus was incredibly agile for a crocodyliform, comparable in dexterity to even mammalian hunters such as foxes and raccoons.

Ogresuchus pushes back the known origin of sebecidae by about 10 million years, leading scientists to believe that sebecidae actually originated around the time Gondwana was splitting up. would have lived in dense forests full of other carnivorous dinosaurs which directly competed with it. It also would have enjoyed large open fern praires and wide river landscapes. This is definitely quite an exciting find, and it helps us piece together what cretaceous Europe really looked like.

Skeletal remains of Ogresuchus furatus: (A, C) photographic and (B, D) interpretative draws of the postcranial (A, B) and cranial (C, D) elements, and (E) silhouette showing preserved elements of Ogresuchus furatus. Abbreviations: cv – caudal vertebra, dv – dorsal vertebra, fe – femur, gr – groves, lul – left ulna, lt – left tibia, m1-4 – maxillary tooth, mc – metacarpal, nvf – neuro-vascular foramens, r – rib, rt – right tibia, sa – sacral. Scale bars – 1 cm for (C, D) and 10 cm for (E). Image credit: Sellés et al., doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-71975-y.

 

  • A.G. Sellés et al. 2020. A small Cretaceous crocodyliform in a dinosaur nesting ground and the origin of sebecids. Sci Rep 10, 15293; doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-71975-y

One Response to “Prehistoric Crocodyliform Discovered in Spain

  • Another fascinating dinosaur report from you! I have trouble imagining that fierce head on a 4th long dino.
    Your reports here are always fascinating.
    Donna Nano

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