In this article, we will explain the topic ‘When Did Sarcosuchus Go Extinct?’ and will learn the potential reasons for Sarcosuchus went to Extinct condition.
Sarcosuchus – A prehistoric Beast
If you are unfamiliar with this deadly jaw-snapping death machine, it is only fairly understandable. The formidable slayer was recently discovered by the French paleontologist Albert – Felix de Lapparent in 1997 and 2000 (The time when the evidence of its existence came to be known from the remains which were discovered in the Saharan desert spanning from 1946-59). This ancient hunter existed around 95 to 115 million years ago during the cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era.
Sarcosuchus (Flesh crocodile) has a sense of likeliness with the crocodiles as it hails from a crocodilian family and is known to be the largest crocodile that ever lived. Crocodiles already rightfully own the title of largest reptile on the planet, Sarcosuchus is the largest among the largest reptiles that ever lived!
It is as long as your average city bus or maybe even larger. It is very conveniently double the size of the current fully grown adult crocodile and it fairly makes sense as its head alone measured 2 meters long and snout constituting seventy-five percent of its skull in length.
Sarcosuchus dwelled mainly in the continents of South America and Africa, which were a part of a single landscape at the time. (That is, when Africa and South America were a single continent). The Sarcosuchus were famously known to inhabit the lands of Mali, Niger, Algeria, and southern Tunisia.
They dwelled mostly in the northern region of Africa (the present-day Saharan region). But unlike today, the Saharan region was a wetland at the time, the natural levels of waters were quite high and there was no shortage of fresh water across Cretaceous north Africa, it was largely endowed with many fresh water bodies across the Saharan landscape. We will see When Did Sarcosuchus Go Extinct?, before that we will see its characteristics.
Characteristic Features Of A Sarcosuchus
The Sarcosuchus makes the regular full-grown largest living saltwater adult crocodile look smaller. The monster weighs 8 tons and in few cases scales up to 15 tons and measures 40 feet long with good sight, height, and hearing but unlike the modern-day crocodile it has no wider jaws. (The significance of wider jaws has been thoroughly comprehended in the upcoming section.).
The snout of a Sarcosuchus represents that of a Gharial (A modern-day crocodilian), it has a narrow straight-line or a long thin snout with a ball-like figure at the end which was better designed to scooping up fish. A Sarcosuchus has a 34000 kPa jaw pressure that is 50 tons stronger than a human bite. The closest in appearance to a Sarcosuchus is Gharial and a saltwater crocodile for they are the largest crocodile reigning today.
The Sarcosuchus has an expansion at the end of its snout called ‘Bulla’. Which has drawn comparisons to Gharials for its ‘Gharas’ which is found in male Gharials. The purpose of this bulla remains a mystery to date. But, unlike the Gharials, the bulla is not a sexually dimorphic trait.
A Sarcosuchus’s bite is 50 times stronger than a human bite, it can swim 32 km per hour and run 18 km per hour.
Sarcosuchus– An Elite Killer
The Jaw Power
The Sarcosuchus has similar jaws to Gharial, which is why it is also known as a false Gharial. A Sarcosuchus had a greater jaw power than the modern-day crocodiles, so powerful that they can jaw away steel into two.
Though it has a narrow jaw with a low surface area as compared to the modern-day alligators and crocodiles, its hunting capabilities are far over the levels of modern-day hardcore carnivores.
As it is no ordinary animal goofing around small prey, it is a monstrous crocodile with a taste for dinosaurs. But, mind you, not all dinosaurs. It snacks on dinosaurs like Brachiosaurus (that is not a full-grown adult), Lurdusaurus (Large herbivores eating dinosaurs), capacity to sink a Paralititan, and preys on Spinosaurus (the largest carnivore dinosaur that ever was) in groups.
As it does not have wider jaws, it cannot hunt for wider food variety, the food options are limited to a few for a single sarcosuchus, if they want to hunt big they are capable to execute the same only in groups.
An Ambush Killer
The Sarcosuchus mainly dwelled in freshwaters. It is understandable to doubt its ambush killing capabilities given its huge body size. Now for the fact that the modern-day salt-water and Nile crocodiles are able to hide just fine in waters, so it can be safely assumed, given the high-water level wetlands, that the Sarcosuchus must be comfortably able to hide in the waters as a technique for preying. Almost no animal could stand a chance once it is laid hold of a Sarcosuchus, as a Sarcosuchus attack is 1000 times deadlier than a shark attack.
The crocodiles haven’t evolved much since the cretaceous period, they are pretty much similar when it comes to hunting techniques and appearances. The Sarcosuchus’s jaws can remain open for days, like a trap. When the prey settles in, it snaps quickly. The Sarcosuchus also has the capability to swim unassumingly, it is a great swimmer and can hold breath over an hour making the marine and other animals suicidal underwater.
Could Other Animal Meal On Sarcosuchus?
A Sarcosuchus, unlike the other animals, grows slowly over its entire life, it grows indefinitely for a long period, and once it reaches its adult size it becomes simply invincible and indestructible.
But, as far as other animals preying on it is concerned, it can fairly happen so, at the time when Sarcosuchus is on the verge of growing, but not yet fully grown. The carnivores can hunt on them at their juvenile stages, as it becomes an easy meal for the predators.
But not all animals are capable of hunting the beast down, only animals with a strong bite and greater jaw power could prey on them as a Sarcosuchus is fully covered in osteoderms, plates of which are basically plates of armor. (Modern crocodiles have osteoderms as well but with occasional breaks in the plate arrangement commonly around the neck and other parts of the body).
The Death Roll
The multiple mentions regarding jaw structure in the previous sections were because the wider jaws help the Sarcosuchus execute the famous crocodilian signature move – the deadly ‘Death roll’.
As the crocodiles can’t break apart large prey as their jaw is so long but can do the same through death roll. But to execute a death role one needs a jaw structure such as the crocodile. But a Sarcosuchus is not capable of pulling off a death roll due to its narrow long-thin snout.
What happens in a death roll? A crocodile can’t tear its prey apart like the other animals. So, instead, it goes for the death roll. ‘Once clenched in the jaws it will toss its prey around harshly to position the prey to tip it at the crocodile’s convenience and quickly slide it down through the crocodile’s ample throat. It pulls you beneath the water (as it knows it has a good hand and it is at an advantage underwater) and rolls unassumingly, this helps the crocodile to drown its prey and drip off any of its pesky limbs. It likes a streamlined snack to swallow whole as it’s jaw can’t chew well enough.
And if the prey tries to get rid of its jaws during the death roll and try to spin in the opposite direction, the prey can undergo severe limb loss and extensive injuries. It is not called the death roll for nothing!
The Great Extinction- When Did Sarcosuchus Go Extinct?
A Sarcosuchus is an extinct genus that lived around 95 to 115 million years ago during the third, final, and longest period of Mesozoic era, that is the cretaceous period. In totality, the living existence has been divided into 3 eras.
The ‘Paleozoic’, the ‘Mesozoic’, and the ‘Cenozoic’. Mesozoic is the middle of the 3 eras and is known as the age of reptiles and conifers. The Mesozoic era comprises three periods – Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. The super crocs lived in the lower cretaceous.
Potential Reasons As To Why Sarcosuchus Could Have Gone Extinct
The Saharan desert was a wetland with an abundance of freshwater bodies spread across the region during cretaceous. Over a period of time the water levels have depleted making it a more densely tropical land with a shortage of water (as it is in the present-day scenario), this might have potentially led or say supplemented the process of extinction – ‘The natural disruption of their natural habitats’.
Another reason could be the fact that most of them were eaten up in their juvenile stages by then prevailing large animals, as the Mesozoic era was considered the period of dinosaurs, reptiles, and conifers. It would be fair to presume there existed large and larger hardcore carnivores back in the day besides a Sarcosuchus.
Yet another reason for their extinction and the major reason so to speak, could be the lack of food and habitat that brought about their extinction. The ancient hunter was doomed to extinction due to the shortage of food, which could be due to the shortage of animals that drifted around, and secondly its narrow jaws that potentially narrowed down its food preferences.
Thus we learnt ‘When Did Sarcosuchus Go Extinct?’. The unfortunate extinction of this great reptile could be considered as a good fortune for the present-day human era, as it is due to their extinction, the people are able to explore and dwell on the Saharan and wet lands of Africa and other parts of the world, had the Sarcosuchus been very much alive in flesh and blood, the humans wouldn’t stand a remote chance in the event of an encounter with the beast.