Paleontology is still pretty new as sciences go. It’s only been around in any kind of organized form for less than 200 years, and while today’s explorers and researchers can trace their pedigrees through multiple generations, paleo practitioners have really only just begun to literally scratch the surface of what’s out there. This is true even on continents that have been considered well-sampled and studied. Case in point, the Lo Hueco fossil site in central Spain.
The Late Cretaceous boneyard, located in the village of Fuentes, was only discovered in 2007. Since that time paleontologists have found fish, amphibians, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, and various dinosaurs from this one spot, and they’ve just named a new species from the assemblage. Described by Iván Narváez, Christopher Brochu, and colleagues, the large-toothed crocodile has been dubbed Lohuecosuchus megadontos.
Back when Lohuecosuchus was alive, around 72 million years ago, much of Europe was an archipelago. Tongues of ocean separated islands where dinosaurs roamed, and the separation of once-connected landmasses led new species to evolve among the scattered islands. Lohuecosuchus megadontos was one of these evolutionary spinoffs, and even had a close – but distinct – relative in Cretaceous France named Lohuecosuchus mechinorum by Narváez and coauthors. Along with the other European crocs of the time, these two new species show what evolution can do with a little isolation.
Name: Lohuecosuchus megadontos
Meaning: Lohuecosuchus means “crocodile from Lo Hueco”, while megadontos is a reference to the reptile’s large teeth.
Age: Around 72 million years old.
Where in the world?: Lo Hueco, central Spain.
What sort of critter?: An ancient crocodile belonging to a group called allodaposuchids.
Size: The skull measures about 15 inches long and 11 inches wide.
How much of the creature’s body is known?: Three skulls – ranging from complete to fragmentary – and three lower jaws.
Narváez, I., Brochu, C., Escaso, F., Pérez-García, Ortega, F. 2015. New crocodyliforms from southwestern Europe and Definition of a diverse clade of European Late Cretaceous basal eusuchians. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140679
Previous Paleo Profiles:
The Unfortunate Dragon
The Cross Lizard
The South China Lizard
Zhenyuan Sun’s dragon
The Fascinating Scrap
The Sloth Claw
The Hefty Kangaroo
The Rain-Maker Lizard
The Ancient Agama
The Cutting Shears of Kimbeto Wash
The False Moose
“Miss Piggy” the Prehistoric Turtle
Mexico’s “Bird Mimic”
The Greatest Auk
Catalonia’s Little Ape
Pakistan’s Butterfly-Faced Beast
The Head of the Devil