Researchers Have Discovered a New Giant 18-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Species That Inexplicably Disappeared

Large Crocodile Mouth Open

There are currently 18 living species of crocodiles. Large crocodiles can grow over 17 feet long.

Researchers find crocodile species that likely preyed on early humans.

Millions of years ago, giant dwarf crocodiles inhabited Africa that loved to eat our human ancestors.

Two new species of crocodiles have been discovered, according to a recent study headed by the University of Iowa. These crocodiles formerly inhabited east Africa between 18 million and 15 million years ago before inexplicably becoming extinct. Their findings were recently published in the journal The Anatomical Record. The species, known as giant dwarf crocodiles, is similar to the dwarf crocodiles that may today be found in central and western Africa.

But unlike their contemporary relatives, the huge dwarf crocodiles were much larger—hence the name. Rarely can dwarf crocodiles grow longer than 4 or 5 feet, but their prehistoric ancestors could reach lengths of up to 12 feet, making them among the most dangerous dangers to any animals they came across.

Giant Dwarf Crocodile

Researchers led by the University of Iowa have discovered two new species of crocodiles that roamed parts of Africa between 18 million and 15 million years ago and preyed on human ancestors. The Kinyang giant dwarf crocodiles (in gold) were up to four times the length of their modern relatives, dwarf crocodiles (shown in green). The new species discovery comes after an analysis of the skull of a Kinyang specimen. Credit:
Christopher Brochu, University of Iowa

“These were the biggest predators our ancestors faced,” says Christopher Brochu, professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Iowa and the study’s corresponding author. “They were opportunistic predators, just as crocodiles are today. It would have been downright perilous for ancient humans to head down to the river for a drink.”

Kinyang mabokoensis and Kinyang tchernovi are the names of the new species. They possessed big, conical teeth and short, deep snouts. Instead of opening straight upward like contemporary crocodiles, their noses opened somewhat up and to the front. Instead of being in the water, they waited for prey in the forest for the majority of the time.

“They had what looked like this big grin that made them look really happy, but they would bite your face off if you gave them the chance,” Brochu says.

Kinyang lived in the East Africa Rift Valley, in parts of present-day Kenya, in the early to middle Miocene period—a time when the region was largely blanketed by forests. However, both species seemed to go extinct starting about 15 million years ago with the end of the Miocene Climatic Optimum.

Why did they disappear? Brochu believes that less rain fell in the area as a result of climate change. As a result of the decrease in rainfall, forests gradually disappeared and were replaced by grasslands and mixed savanna woodlands. Kinyang was impacted by the shift in the environment because, according to the researchers, it likely favored woodland areas for breeding and hunting.

“Modern dwarf crocodiles are found exclusively in forested wetlands,” says Brochu, who has studied ancient and modern crocodiles for more than three decades. “Loss of habitat may have prompted a major change in the crocodiles found in the area.

“These same environmental changes have been linked to the rise of the larger bipedal primates that gave rise to modern humans,” Brochu adds.

Brochu acknowledges what caused the Kinyang to die out requires further testing, as the researchers are unable to determine precisely when the animals became extinct. Also, there is a gap in the fossil record between Kinyang and other crocodile lineages that came onto the scene beginning about 7 million years ago. The new arrivals included relatives of the Nile crocodile currently found in Kenya.

Brochu examined the specimens during several visits since 2007 to the National Museums of Kenya, in Nairobi.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the Leakey Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Fulbright Collaborative Research Program, the Boise Fund of Oxford University, the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group, the University of Iowa, the Karl und Marie Schack-Stiftung Fund and Vereinigung von Freunden und Förderern der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, and the Ministerio de Universidades de España.

Reference: “Giant dwarf crocodiles from the Miocene of Kenya and crocodylid faunal dynamics in the late Cenozoic of East Africa” by Christopher A. Brochu, Ane de Celis, Amanda J. Adams, Stephanie K. Drumheller, Jennifer H. Nestler, Brenda R. Benefit, Aryeh Grossman, Francis Kirera, Thomas Lehmann, Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce, Fredrick K. Manthi, Monte L. McCrossin, Kieran P. McNulty and Rose Nyaboke Juma, 8 June 2022, The Anatomical Record.
DOI: 10.1002/ar.25005

49 Comments on "Researchers Have Discovered a New Giant 18-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Species That Inexplicably Disappeared"

  1. It is just like voay pterosaur duckbill dinosaur crest skull crocodile not like today dwarf crocodile they lack fuse nose.fuse nose are rare for crocodile and it’s ancestor American gator Chinese gator it is fuse the caiman gator it is not fuse .I wonder if it has dome skull like mammal dwarf crocodile dwarf caiman .out any crocodile I want to know more about them probaly have a lot dinosaur feature like dwarf caiman because they are land base crocodile .That fossil nose is more like early land mesoeucrocodylia they have fully mammal land nose like theropod dinosaur.

  2. I’m confused. I didn’t know there was an Africa that liked to eat our ancestors. Did the ground open up and swallow them? I know there was a lot of tectonics going on in the distant past, but not as much in the era discussed here.

  3. Kendra Stiwich | July 19, 2022 at 7:19 am | Reply

    The title is wrong. The article goes on to explain a very feasible hypothesis for why these species did not survive. When grabbing headlines Trump’s good science writing leads to why people question Science in the first place. Come on Scitechdaily. Do better

    • Clyde Spencer | July 19, 2022 at 9:46 am | Reply

      Why did you feel a need to denigrate Trump when he is not mentioned in the article and had nothing to do with the research? Are you acknowledging that you suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome? Get a life!

      • I hope this is sarcasm. If it isn’t, I’m pretty sure the inclusion of Trump was either a voice to text or autocorrect error. I really hope you aren’t a combination of being that pedantic and oblivious.

  4. Anthropologist Shirl | July 19, 2022 at 10:15 am | Reply

    They may have eaten the occasional ape – there were a LOT more of them in the Miocene, but there sure weren’t any hominins that far back. The article is very misleading on that.

    • William Adama | July 19, 2022 at 3:58 pm | Reply

      Yes, the article is misleading. Whatever bipedal pre-hominins were around at the time – and, 15 million years ago, we can pretty well guarantee that none of them looked remotely human – these giant dwarf crocodiles were the “among most dangerous dangers” that they faced.
      This carelessly-written article infers that there were no other large predators in Africa at that time.

  5. ALL this mess the world is in now is Trump’s fault!!!

  6. I find this article fascinating and informative. How many of these new/old crocs are in existence at present time,if known? And I would also state that mentioning Trump in regards to this article is irrelevant,and serves no purpose whatsoever! The topic is the new discovery not Trump!

  7. David Hopkins | July 19, 2022 at 1:32 pm | Reply

    Yes, Kendra seems to have succumbed to Trump Derangement Syndrome. It must be awful to walk around all day long with rumblings of Trump echoing in her tiny dinosaur brain.

  8. Was the climate change 15 million years ago caused by the Flintstonemobile? Or is it a natural phenomena that’s gonna happen no matter what.

  9. It appears that TDS is still afflicting leftist snowflakes in 2022. It’s hilarious that Trump still lives in the heads of these pathetic individuals.

  10. My My, People. Please be advised of the following: Kendra was NOT referring to Trump the former president thing. The context readily implies the term trump, which existed before the former president, is being used to explain how one thing supersedes another. It’s a term, people. Ironic that folks are saying she’s making this article about Trump, when it is actually them. Geez. So ready to jump to negativity with the get a life type of comments, and so unnecessary. Allow kindness to take the lead a little more, perhaps.

  11. The smiley face description made me wonder if ancient predators adapted anything to improve their hunt of prehistoric man

  12. Mansour Ahmadi | July 20, 2022 at 6:38 am | Reply

    With the pandemic we have just experiencing, nothing is admitted to be denoted as Inexplicably!

  13. Gordon Hamilton | July 20, 2022 at 6:40 am | Reply

    I believe there’s great thing’s beings Found in this World that have been left for us to find; But can the Scientist Stop putting age’s on everything this World isn’t 18 million years old. Read the first book in the Bible and it was the dragon that told me. Start Counting from there

  14. A new dinosaur species in spinosauridae with a Nile crocodile nose the fossil tyrannosaur when extinct because small crocodilian is known to be pess for bigger crocodilian eating there food the bigger crocodilian keeping them in check by prey on them the balance of nature

  15. Tina Malenczak | July 20, 2022 at 7:56 am | Reply

    I agree that this a badly written article. It’s a shame, as bad grammar & spelling can stop you understanding the important details of the discovery. One or two of the comments are badly written as well, which can mean that you don’t know what the person is trying to say. I always check my comments before posting, but most people these days don’t seem to do that.

  16. Science crap 15 million years ago? Need to spend their money on something worthwhile. If its extinct who cares.

  17. Too funny reading the triggered limp wristed comments.

  18. Alan Ericksen | July 20, 2022 at 11:00 am | Reply

    Pseudoscience continues to show its stupidity and makes it obvious with such a contradictory stupid name, giant dwarf! LOL

  19. Just flip one gene and the little one will grow as large as the big one. Example, there is a North American bird identical to an extinct giant bird in New Zealand. One evolved small, one evolved giant. Flip a growth gene, and bring back a bird that can hunt down an ostrich or even a calf.

  20. Your article alleging “Millions of years ago, giant dwarf crocodiles inhabited Africa that loved to eat our human ancestors” is not credible. Early humans did not exist 15 million years ago. This article needs to be fact checked because, on its face it is in conflict with settled science.
    PhD DMA

  21. That was funny, so many triggered to go all out to defend Trump, pretty much a mortal enemy of facts, science, and, might add, democracy.

    This is a public forum, so here goes nothing:

    For everyone’s info D. Trump represents White Supremacy. KKK. America First. Ultra-Nationalism. Rabid Misogyny. Anti-Immigrant Attacks. Attacks on science. Attacks on wild-life and their eco-systems. Attacks on future Earth generations, human and non-human. Attacks on language like The “Big Lie”. As in an overt and MALICIOUS lie to overturn one of the most beautiful and successful and pivotal elections not just in the history of 🇺🇸 America, but ever seen in the history of Democracy since its invention in Classical Athens. An Attack to rally and unleash paramilitary fascist light infantry in our country’s nerve center. HELLOOOO! With the goal of obstructing the peaceful transfer of power from one jacked party to the next. PRE-F****ING PLANNED. Including Molotov Cocktails and stashes of weapons and food, good to go to feed a small army of insurrectionists for a month! Including posted shooters on the surrounding rooftops of the People’s House. All waiting for what? To unleash hell and murder on our country. So, Let’s get this straight: “Trump Derangement Syndrome”, my big toe. Trump and the rest of the Republican Party, except for a happy few, acted in concert with actual malice. To foment and empower a Big Lie. To use as a weapon to attempt to overthrow democracy in our country. All FACTS!! As Patton would say, “you SOB!”. TRUMP is a clear and present danger to the future health and survival of my country (and planet). That belongs to our kids, and is not ours to give away. Thanks to the Congressional Committee, we now know. the Republican Party, including MAGA MEDIA, represent a fully armed and immediate threat to America. A country with many faults and long ways to go issues, but that I LOVE. A hijacked GOP no less a threat to our future everywhere, than Hitler and Tojo were in 1941. The only difference is that now the FASCIST threat is locally based, so, basically, WORSE. An ideology that includes the belief in the supremacy of white people for running a country with slaves and colonies. A belief that loathes democracy. A belief that insists on obedience to an all powerful leader over the Rule of Law. A belief that celebrates violence and cruelty not just as a means for suppressing dissent, but as a thing itself. So, yeah, don’t get confused, people. This threat is very real. Science KNOWS it. And science exists, also, to defend not just facts, but democracy and human decency as well. Its the least we can do for all the brave men and women who have given their lives just so we can have a voice and call this s*** out for the EVIL it represents. One last thing, enough with the Boomers, too. The most feckless and irresponsible American generation of adults that has EVER lived. That has helped murder our planet and handed our country for money to the likes of fascists like Trump. Get involved! See you in November.

  22. Another thing, I’ve taken a screen shot of my comment. It’s kind of an empirical test to see if it’s ok to defend democracy and speech in a science forum. How interesting. If you pull it, I guarantee you I will use it in the future to prove you did, indeed, pull it, in another article. So, let’s see what happens. Thanks.

  23. What they are trying to reveal in this article is the presence of petrified crocodiles.
    This article came out while I was visiting Lachats Oregon. There I saw a rock that looked like a crocodile biting an old world monkeys.
    The timing of the article was amazing to me. I saw exactly what the authors described, in the rocks.
    They are telling you that these giant deaths were petrified, and provide a record of the past.
    I don’t give a damn whether folk can comprehend this or not.

  24. What they are trying to reveal in this article is the presence of petrified crocodiles.
    This article came out while I was visiting Lachats Oregon. There I saw a rock that looked like a crocodile biting an old world monkeys.
    The timing of the article was amazing to me. I saw exactly what the authors described, in the rocks.
    They are telling you that these giant deaths were petrified, and provide a record of the past.
    I don’t give a damn whether folk can comprehend this or not.

  25. A giant dwarf crocodile sounds like an oxymoron if ever I heard one.

  26. Wait…….I’m confused on the Trump comments? Geez I don’t like the man either but can’t blame him for stuff that found 15-18 MILLION YEARS AGO🤣😂 These comments are comical

  27. Mr.Adama..actually the writer IMPLYS ..and the listener INFERS –. Very good article –

  28. Why are people eating dwarf crocodile today it’s a endanger species today like million other animal the science is not done with this little dinosaur we need drugs from them we need to know what pess it kill to help the human stop the silly movie and hype them the right way

  29. This article is written as if all or some of the information is true. The whole article is assumption. No more and no less.

  30. It’s all a croc. The mentality of some commenters dwarfs that of others but none Trump mine. Now my brain is petrified.

  31. Ah neat giant dwarf crocs the same size or smaller than the crocodiles of today eating men who didn’t yet exist. Iowa should stick to corn studies. If they slightly open their jaws they could swim and correct?

  32. Mr Shannon Matthews | July 22, 2022 at 10:44 am | Reply

    Dwarf giant crocodile. Sounds kinda “how can something be giant and dwarf at the same times?”
    How about just say “The African Giant Prehistoric Crocodiles Had Dwarf Relatives Just As Terrifying And Deadly.”
    That would be much more sensible and less confusing.

  33. This comment thread is golden, deranged Trump supporters with severely lacking comprehension skills, misunderstanding another’s comment and going nutts. Just further cementing the mentality we’ve come to expect from them. Embarrassing they seemingly did not know the word trump has an actual meaning, and only see their own insanity when the word is used. Omg

  34. Master maga will return | July 23, 2022 at 6:03 am | Reply

    Juna does your uncle biden sniffs your hair..?

  35. Anti-Trump people are truly deranged. What’s worse than an open border? Want a safer US? Finish the border wall. Foreigners are not supposed to be able to walk into US.

  36. Dame,our contrary is so broken we can’t see straight the man in the comments used the word trumps like you would say an ace trumps a queen not Trump the ex-president Trump you need to read draw your on concussion stop going off the word of another so much hate in the harts of many when 80 present of us want peace love an respect,an financial stability the internet is turning you all into mindless drones without forethought empathy or compassion God help those who ask you to help them become better people

  37. Climate change huh? I guess our ancestors 7 million years ago should have parked their muscle cars.

    • Neverleft Alwaysright | July 30, 2022 at 3:52 am | Reply

      Sounds like living in areas around these crocodiles was still way safer than living in a city with a democrat mayor running the show.

  38. You had me at the term “Giant Dwarf”

  39. I’m taking a screenshot of your somment about taking a screenshot of your previous comment so I can post on other sites and apps to show what real power must feel like. Lol. The internets not safe any more.

  40. What I really want to know is why we had climate change 15 million years ago without any automobiles or industrial factories. Thank you I’ll eat my dwarf large extra large one now. Come on dwarf large alligators? Really funny

  41. I am laughing! Commentors naming the name of Donald Trump to rile others with their words. I see TDS is still alive and well! Listen, it’s not his fault he is our best President in history!
    Let’s go Brandon!

  42. Enough trumpery already !!!

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