The largest living crocodiles are the salt-water crocodile of the southwestern Pacific and the endangered Gharial, found in India. Both can grow to about 8 meters from snout to the tip of the tail.
The largest known extinct crocodile is Deinosuchus ("terrible crocodile"), which lived during the Cretaceous in what is now the Rio Grande valley in Texas. Its skull is 2 meters long. Assuming it had the same proportions as today's crocodiles, it may have attained a length of 15 meters and weighed around 2 tons.
Another contender is Sarcosuchus imperator, (“emperor of the flesh-eating crocs”), with a skull 1.5 meters long, first described about 1970 from a partial skull. Additional fragments were discovered in Niger in 2000, and a complete skull in 2001.¹ An adult would have been about as long as a city bus, about 12 meters, and probably ate dinosaurs, lying hidden in the water and ambushing them when they came for a drink.
1. Paul C. Sereno, Han C. E. Larrson, Christian A. Sidor and Boubé Gado.
The giant crocodyliform Sarchosuchus from the Cretaceous of Africa.
Science, volume 294, pages 1516-1519.
David R. Schwimmer.
King of the Crocodyllians: The Paleobiology of Deinosuchus.
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002.
Exceptionally accessible book by a professor of paleontology.
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Last revised: 14 October 2002.