27-Foot Long Crocodylus Thorbjarnarsoni Roamed Kenya


Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni is the largest known crocodilian species.

The remains of the largest crocodilian known to have existed, Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni, were unearthed in the Turkana Basin, in Kenya. The large crocodile was big enough to swallow humans whole, and probably did as much two to four million years ago, from the mid-Pliocene to the early Pleistocene eras.

The enormous horned crocodilian, named Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni, after the famed crocodile expert John Thorbjarnarson, exceeded 27 feet in length and was described in the latest Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. C. thorbjarnarsoni was most probably the dominant predator of its ecosystem and preyed upon many different organisms. Remains of Australopithecus were found nearby.


Early hominidae would have come in contact with C. thorbjarnarsoni near lakesides or riverbanks. The fossils were discovered stored at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi. The crocodile would have looked similar to a Nile crocodile, except with a larger snout and horn-like protuberances behind its eyes. Given these similarities, the prehistoric species had a lifestyle that resembled the one of their modern counterparts.


It took four men to lift the animal’s skull, and Christopher Brochu states that it was related to Crocodylus anthropophagus, another man-eating horned crocodilian from Tanzania. As well as preying on Australopithecus, C. thorbjarnarsoni probably ate other hominidae, including early species of homo sapiens.

Reference: “A giant crocodile from the Plio-Pleistocene of Kenya, the phylogenetic relationships of Neogene African crocodylines, and the antiquity of Crocodylus in Africa” by Christopher A. Brochu and Glenn W. Storrs, 3 May 2012, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2012.652324

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