A University of Iowa researcher believes he's discovered evidence of the largest known crocodile, and he thinks it was a real man-eater of a beast.
The university announced that Christopher Brochu, an associate professor of geoscience, recently published a paper on the newly discovered species of crocodile.
The species would have lived in Kenya between 2 and 4 million years ago. It may have looked like the Nile crocodile living today but would have been bigger.
Brochu said it may have been larger than 27 feet, while the largest recorded Nile crocodile was less than 21 feet.
He made the discovery from looking at fossils at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi.
"It lived alongside our ancestors, and it probably ate them," he stated in the announcement, adding that humans during that time period were likely about 4 feet tall.
There weren't any fossil human remains found with crocodile bites, "but the crocs were bigger than today's crocodiles, and we were smaller, so there probably wasn't much biting involved," he said.
National Geographic reported this beast would have lived in deep lakes near today's Lake Turkana in Kenya. Humans would likely become unsuspecting prey while traveling to the lake to get water.
The fossils that Brochu studied were found in the 1960s and 1970s. The New York Times stated they would look similar to the Nile crocodile but with a different jaw and skull formation.
The university reported that Brochu named his discovery Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni, after the late John Thorbjarnarson, a crocodile expert and colleague of Brochu's who died of malaria while in the field.
Brochu's find would exceeed Lolong, a 20.3-foot saltwater crocodile found in the Philippines in 2011.
While his discovery would be the largest known true crocodile, National Geographic specified that doesn't include the wider category of crocodyliforms, which include alligators. That group would include the 40-foot-long SuperCroc.
Brochu's paper was published May 3 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
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