Weaker Than Crocodiles? The Shocking Truth About Earth’s 230-Million-Year-Old Apex Predator

Skull and a Life Reconstruction of Saurosuchus

A recent study revealed that Saurosuchus, a Late Triassic reptile and distant relative of modern crocodiles, had a weaker bite than previously believed and couldn’t crunch bones like later dinosaurs. Despite its large size, the bite strength of Saurosuchus was equivalent to modern gharials, much weaker than its successors like Allosaurus and T. rex. Above is a skull and a life-reconstruction of Saurosuchus. Credit: Jordan Bestwick, University of Birmingham

Computer simulations of apex predators indicate they had distinct feeding behaviors from dinosaurs, as they were unable to crush bones.

The apex predators that roamed our planet 230 million years ago likely had a less powerful bite than scientists believed, and likely couldn’t crunch through bone to consume the entirety of their kills.

In a new study published in The Anatomical Record, paleontologists from the University of Birmingham have recreated the original skull anatomy of Saurosuchus, a Late Triassic reptile that is a distant relative of modern crocodiles. Saurosuchus was thought to be an apex predator due to its size and diet, standing between 5-8 meters in length and weighing over 250 kg.

However, the latest analysis of the skulls of the reptile and comparisons with the later well-known dinosaur Allosaurus found that despite their similar skull strengths, the earlier crocodile relative Saurosuchus had a much weaker bite than the dinosaurs that followed it.  Saurosuchus would have had a bite with the force of 1015–1885 N, equivalent to modern crocodiles called gharials.

For comparison:

  • Allosaurus: 3,572 N
  • Saltwater crocodiles have a bite force of ~16,000 N
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: 17,000-35,000 N

Dr. Jordan Bestwick, a vertebrate palaeobiologist at the University of Birmingham and corresponding author of the paper said: “We found that Saurosuchus actually had an incredibly weak bite for its size and thus predated animals in very different ways compared to later evolving dinosaurs.  In fact, despite being one of the bigger lizards and an apex predator, the Saurosuchus had a bite that was on a par with the relatively measly bite of the gharial, and much less powerful than more fearsome crocs and alligators around today.

“You would still would have liked to leave Saurosuchus well alone, but they likely fed only on the soft fleshy bits of their kills as their bite wouldn’t have enabled them to crunch up bones.”

Restoration of the Saurosuchus Skull

A step-by-step process of the restoration of the skull. Credit: Jordan Bestwick, University of Birmingham

Careful eaters

Despite their relative size, Saurosuchus would have been careful diners that used their back teeth to remove the flesh from their kills, the study suggests.

In contrast to later dinosaurs, the feeding behavior of Saurosuchus is likely due to a weak bite and a more rectangular skull shape. Also, these earlier reptiles had thinner bones in their noses compared to the later Allosaurus.

Dr Stephan Lautenschlager, Associate Professor in Palaeobiology at the University of Birmingham and senior author of the paper said: “The Saurosuchus would certainly have been a fearsome reptile until it sat down to eat its prey, and we can see how evolutionary details in the skulls of these massive apex predators necessitated significant differences in eating behaviour. While dinosaurs that followed in the Jurassic period would have eaten the vast majority of their kills, Saurosuchus may have left more complete carcasses, which would have provided a secondary meal for carrion-feeding animals too.”

Molly Fawcett, co-author of the paper said: “It is truly amazing how similar the skulls of top predators in the Triassic period (the time before the domination of the dinosaurs) look compared to the well-known carnivorous dinosaurs such as the T. rex. However, unexpectedly we found that the bite power of these Triassic predators was far weaker compared to the post-Triassic dinosaurs.”

Reference: “Functional morphology of the Triassic apex predator Saurosuchus galilei (Pseudosuchia: Loricata) and convergence with a post-Triassic theropod dinosaur” by Molly J. Fawcett, Stephan Lautenschlager, Jordan Bestwick and Richard J. Butler, 16 August 2023, The Anatomical Record.
DOI: 10.1002/ar.25299

10 Comments on "Weaker Than Crocodiles? The Shocking Truth About Earth’s 230-Million-Year-Old Apex Predator"

  1. Dinosaur bite force is not in the league of modern crocodilian that why they are primitive only greatest dinosaur alive today modern crocodilian have the greatest bite force in dinosaur it’s not scientific possible for dinosaur to have bite force like modern crocodilian modern crocodilian is full palate dinosaur only dinosaur have full palate is t.rex spinosauridae and spinosauridae is a mesoeucrocodylia the first mesoeucrocodylia the greatest dinosaur ever modern crocodilian has fully secondary bony palate the gharial bite force is not weak it has biggest skull in modern crocodilian .bite force is by size of skull the top jaw they are no palate on lower jaw no roof only palate to hold the teeth most dinosaur lack palate a common feature in reptile only reptile with a full palate like mammal is modern crocodilian the greatest dinosaur ever the gharial skull is bigger than spinosaurus.spinosaurus has skull size like false gharial the Nile crocodile American gator skull is smaller the gator has stronger wider skull like t. rex thin skull is weakest .and dinosaur is a crocodilian because it’s a thecodont.thecodont means crocodilian that why scientist call dinosaur crocodilian when they first found dinosaur they wonder which animal it is they found that share unique teeth with modern crocodilian .thecodont means crocodilian teeth but dinosaur was much more primitive than modern crocodilian they did not have the weaponry that modern crocodilian has .the gharial has back up in there skull like mammal so they can have very strong thin skull they have 6 bone fuse to braincase the primitive reptile like dinosaur have 2 some early mesoeucrocodylia has 4 one sphenosuchus has 3 the sphenosuchus is pseudosuchus dinosaur the modern crocodilian is tetanuran dinosaur.by the math dinosaur never has the technology like modern crocodilian that why they are dead and better won are alive the gator the won of the greatest predator ever .the problem with ghariel skull some of bone are not fuse which will make the skull weak even in most dinosaur these bone are fuse allso thecodont allso in most modern crocodilian these bone are fuse but the gharial has biggest skull in dinosaur which is back up and 6 bones force to braincase that enough to kill a man in the past they thought false gharial was not dangerous now it is well known man killer that why modern crocodilian are so amazing and are greatest dinosaur ever they are very fast like cats the same design back bone very rare in animal .they identified modern crocodilian by fully secondary bony palate only reptile with a full palate the say t.rex has full palate but it’s secondary bony palate is like a bird short and secondary bony is not occified palate only turtle gator mammal has a occified palate .the palate t.rex is simular to gator because they twist food to the side when eating that why they share unique teeth with mesoeucrocodylia you have to have strong palate for that most predator theropod eat up and down like birds t.rex is different from most theropod it’s eating style like mesoeucrocodylia most thecodont eat like birds up and down because they can not do death roll they are not twisted eater which need a full palate. mesoeucrocodylia the true crocodilian has two roof in the mouth the fully secondary bony palate

  2. Force .? I mean fuse for the 6 bone fuse to braincase .t.rex has no chance against spinosauridae it is primitive .spinosauridae is a mesoeucrocodylia which mean it’s king of the dinosaur a true crocodilian

  3. T.rex like most theropod has 2 bones fuse to braincase one sphenosuchus has 3 some early mesoeucrocodylia has 4 I herd one the math show clearly that gator has 6 like higher up animal like mammal .mammal and gator palate are unique because it is close no air goes trough it’s a new technology for animal they can breathe while eating .dinosaur reptile are primitive they more simular to fish .mammal type reptile there palate almost close but air goes trough like turtle there palate are not full. a seal palate is a full palate the mammal and modern crocodilian palate

  4. At first I thought early thecodont was the ancestor of modern crocodilian then they explain to me modern crocodilian is unique in having a fully secondary bony palate they did not use the word fully when identified a early land mesoeucrocodylia there skull complete different from modern crocodilian it’s like mammal nose goes forward much more higher skull modern crocodilian has more flatter skull which is weaker that why 6 bone fuse to braincase is so important for modern crocodilian .dwarf caiman dwarf crocodile are land animal there skull complete different from semi aquatic modern crocodilian there skull are like dinosaur and mammal dome shape but not that extreme.the identification they did not use the word fully secondary bony because it’s easy to see that spinosauridae and modern crocodilian are the same animal only use secondary bony palate it’s important to use word fully because it’s complete different the bone clearly show modern crocodilian is higher up animal it was allways was the cliam that gator is primitive is just a myth

  5. And many thecodont has secondary bony palate or bigger palate but must be full to be mesoeucrocodylia .t.rex and gator can not chew but mammal can chew so they need a full palate or some palate most reptile lack palate like dinosaur palate is later evolution in reptile.some dinosaur can chew found in bird hip dinosaur allso some mesoeucrocodylia both eat plant allso has secondary bony palate the bird hip dinosaur .bird allso has secondary bony palate and they eat plant too allso bird hip dinosaur has a beak so premaxillary must be fuse like birds allso spinosauridae and modern premaxillary is fuse but they have there teeth like allosaurus and t.rex .t.rex and allosaurus are predator they do not need beaks it’s not a good predator weapon so premaxillary are not fuse .fuse premaxillary are rare in animal .the fuse premaxillary of spinosauridae and modern crocodilian what is it use for clearly for the death roll system there extreme twist of food .strangely it is easy to find spinosauridae fuse premaxillary on the web

  6. Saurosuchus is a dinosaur the same bird like eating up and down no twist of food. it is not a early thecodont it’s a dinosaur it has wider skull like tetanuran all pseudosuchus are dinosaur there skull are not bird like .likely they are link to tetanuran dinosaur they are early tetanuran or prototetanuran that had 5 finger.in tetanuran t.rex modern crocodilian have the widest skull they have more fenestra-hole in the skull like mammal

  7. Saurosuchus likely link to triceratops with lack of Cingulum teeth the early triceratops type dinosaur lack Cingulum teeth of course gator have Cingulum teeth because it’s a tetanuran dinosaur .all pseudosuchus lack Cingulum teeth .pseudosuchus and bird hip dinosaur sauropod have the arm smaller than there leg most of them because they came from the theropod there ancestor are bipedal they are one dinosaur group.most pseudosuchus can do quadrupedal and bipedalism but not so for theropod another weaker system that dinosaur have because they are primitive clearly these pseudosuchus are dinosaur with large sacral vertebrae count and open hip socket in reptile reduce sacral vertebrae is common .the hip socket of pseudosuchus the won I saw look simular to wons in modern crocodilian small in early mesoeucrocodylia the wons close to spinosauridae they are very big very dinosaur like you can not tell by the photo .one was gharial like the other was a land crocodilian

  8. A bird hip dinosaur close there hip socket the acetubular so dinosaur can have close hip socket but the gator acetubular is open this is from there bipedal ancestor and they are still bipedal.so the cliam that modern crocodilian hip socket is close is another myth.the gharial and spinosauridae skull is very powerful it’s long snout crococodilian like gharial and false gharial.the gharial lack a bone fuse to another bone this isvery rare for thecodont dinosaur spinosauridae or modern crocodilian clearly this is for fish eating and deevolution but bigger snout is for kill bigger prey .all spinosauridae has this bone fuse just like Nile crocodile the Nile crocodile is great dinosaur predator .a predator that is known to kill lion .false gharial allso has this bone fuse it’s won of different between false gharial and gharial.they early thought that false gharial was not dangerous but now it’s is well known as a man killer.modern crocodilian are very dangerous animal it’s very simular to cat the backbone these feature are very rare in animals they are fast and dangerous animal.they use the palate to test the bite force .gator has two skull roof big snout the lower jaw lack of palate in every animal.

  9. Dinosaur quadrupedal is like bird flightlessness it is very very common in the past like the early birds flightlessness velociraptor the archaeopteryx troodon and dinosaur quadrupedal or partshall quadropedalism like pseudosuchus any won of them has fourth trochanter can bipedal .on big pubis hip or hip you can not tell if it’s a dinosaur by the size .gator has dinosaur size hip like most pseudosuchus but some pseudosuchus hip are small and are not like dinosaur hip these have different breathing system this happen in dinosaur today the spectacled caiman and American gator have different breathing system because the spectacled caiman is a better swimmer so it has to change there breathing system for the new technology .the dinosaur pterosaur allso has small hip.

  10. Pterosaur has ossified sternum like birds no joint thou the whole sternum complex is fuse and it has first finger and toe in bird furcula has a joint pterosaur is a reptile so has giant neck ribs the fix neck it’s not for flight .bird neck is like mammal they say bird neck is like no other another some turtle has very flexible neck they have same scientific name as birds.pterosaur has same muscle complex in the jaw like all reptile not like birds .bird muscle are on the palatine.pterosaur feature are convergent with birds because of stress of being a fast animal in water .ratties bird has 3 head not 2 like they cliam for most advance modern bird.some sphenosuchus has 3 the gator has 2 like most bird some scientist use this that gator and bird are in same group and dinosaur is not in same group .the one head like velociraptor most dinosaur are akinetic feature the tuatara reptile has 1 head the ancestor of lizard and crocodilian the same bone is found in rattie most bird lack this bone.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.