A Cat-Like Crocodile from the Cretaceous | Science | Smithsonian

A Cat-Like Crocodile from the Cretaceous

This artist's rendering of the newly discovered Pakasuchus kapilimai, a crocodile that lived around 100 million years ago in Africa when it was part of Gondwana, is rather scary on first glance. A leaping croc? They're frightening enough without being able to jump several feet into the air to catch...

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Pakasuchus kapilimai lived about 100 million years ago in Africa (Credit: Mark Witton, University of Portsmouth)




This artist's rendering of the newly discovered Pakasuchus kapilimai, a crocodile that lived around 100 million years ago in Africa when it was part of Gondwana, is rather scary on first glance. A leaping croc? They're frightening enough without being able to jump several feet into the air to catch prey.



But we can relax. Not only did the reptile die out around 80 million years ago, but it was also fairly small. Its head would fit in the palm of your hand.



The name Pakasuchus comes from the Kiswahili word paka meaning "cat" and the Greek souchos meaning "crocodile." The croc was named such because the little guy's skull is short and low, rather like a cat's, and has teeth more like a mammal's than a reptile's. It lived at a time when mammals were somewhat rare in Gondwana, and scientists think that it filled the niche occupied by small furry animals in Laurasia in the north. Pakasuchus likely foraged on land for insects and small animals.



Read more about the newfound croc at Dinosaur Tracking.



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About Sarah Zielinski
Sarah Zielinski

Sarah Zielinski is an award-winning science writer and editor. She is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com and blogs at Wild Things, which appears on Science News.

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