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It's not a crocodile, even though it looks like one.

Chased by Dinosaurs: Land of Giants

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Sarcosuchus was a large crocodilian from the Cretaceous. It was one of the largest crocodilians to ever exist after “Deinosuchus”.

Physical appearance and biology

Measuring over 12 meters in length, Sarcosuchus was a large crocodilian that resembled the modern gharial. It possessed a long, narrow pair of jaws with a large bulb by the snout.

Like most crocodilians, Sarcosuchus had short legs which were splayed out. This limitied Sarcosuchus mobility on land and so this reptile didn't move far away from the water's edge.

Sarcosuchus had a large body which was covered in brown, thick scales as well as a long, flat tail.

Behaviour and traits

Sarcosuchus was a massive crocodilian - one of the largest ever. Because of its titanic size, it was able to hunt the land-dwelling dinosaurs.

A Sarcosuchus capturing an Iguanodont

Sarcosuchus hunted by waiting in the water until an animal strayed too close. Then it would erupt from the water and snap its jaws at the prey animal. Normally, Sarcosuchus didn't chase its prey if it missed, for it was an ambush predator, yet if the prey is slow-moving and couldn't escape quickly enough from the predator, Sarcosuchus would pursue it for a while more.

Sarcosuchus would often bask on the river bank. However, if a large animal - say, an Argentinosaurus - approached it, it would retreat to the safety of the water.

In Chased by Dinosaurs

Land of Giants

As Nigel Marven observed an adolescent female Argentinosaurus walking past a lake, a Sarcosuchus lunged out of the water and narrowly missed him. Nigel retreated to safety but then decided to perform an experiment on the Sarcosuchus.

With a stick in hand, he frequently splashed the water, hoping that the Sarcosuchus would sense the vibrations. As Nigel spotted the head of Sarcosuchus peering out of the water, he momentarily paused and backed away. After the Sarcosuchus disappeared from view, Nigel began splashing again. But then, the Sarcosuchus reappeared, dangerously close to Nigel.

As Nigel quickly backed away again, the Sarcosuchus followed and came onto dry land. As it snapped its huge jaws at Nigel, Nigel continued to move away. Then, the Sarcosuchus paused and basked on the bank of the lake.

Nigel then approached the animal whilst wearing a headcam with his stick. Recording footage of the Sarcosuchus' gaping mouth, he positioned the stick in its mouth but suddenly, the Sarcosuchus snapped the stick in two with its jaws. As Nigel scampered away, the Sarcosuchus nearly caught him but Nigel was too fast for it. The Sarcosuchus then retreated to the lake.

Days later, during the annual Argentinosaurus migration to the egg laying site, the Sarcosuchus was seen basking on the bank. However, the presence on the Argentinosaurus caused it to retreat to the water. Later, when Nigel was watching the Argentinosaurus lay their eggs, the Sarcosuchus lumbered out of the water and attacked Nigel and the cameraman.


Behind the scenes

In reality, Sarcosuchus would have never encountered any of the creatures seen in Chased by Dinosaurs because it lived and died way before any of them first evolved and it lived in a totally different region of South America.

Stock footage of Land of Giants that included the crocodilian was reused for the episode Awesome Ancestors of the Animal Planet series The Most Extreme.[1]

List of appearances

Notes and references