| A computer-generated image of the crocodile (Reuters)
London, Nov. 11: Evidence of an ancient sea creature that would have made Tyrannosaurus rex think twice before dipping a toe into the ocean was unveiled today by fossil hunters.
The creature, nicknamed Godzilla, measured 13 feet from nose to tail. Its 18-inch-long jaws, with interlocking serrated teeth up to four inches long, would have made it a fearsome predator in the sea 135 million years ago.
Unlike the crocodiles we know today, Dakosaurus andiniensis belonged to a family of marine crocodiles that had paddle-like fins instead of legs, and a fish-like tail.
Two other features, its hefty size and bullet-shaped head with T. rex-like snout, have earned it a unique place in history ' and its nickname.
Dakosaurus would have regularly swum to the sea’s surface to gasp oxygen and then retreat into the Pacific, which was up to 750 feet deep and devoid of oxygen near the bottom.
Fossils of Dakosaurus have been found at the southern tip of South America, in Patagonia, by Prof. Zulma Gasparini and Prof. Luis Spalletti, of the National University of La Plata in Argentina, and are described today in the journal Science.
“The recent film monster Godzilla frightened the people of New York, but our Godzilla terrorised creatures in the Pacific Ocean,” said Prof. Gasparini, the expedition leader. “We are calling him the chico malo ' bad boy ' of the ocean. ”
Dr Diego Pol, of Ohio State University, said: “This animal was one of the latest members of its family (Metriorhynchidae) and certainly the most bizarre of all marine crocs.
“Other marine crocodiles that were around at the same time had very delicate features ' long, skinny snouts and needle-like teeth for catching small fish and molluscs. But this croc was just the opposite.”
Dakosaurus was only one of the “sea monsters” that swam in the world’s oceans 250-65 million years ago. Shallow seas and a lack of significant marine predators created new niches for many reptiles that had developed on land, the magazine reports.
Godzilla also appears on the December cover of National Geographic magazine, the research having been partly funded by the National Geographic Society.
Dakosaurus was only one of the “sea monsters” that swam in the world’s oceans 250 million to 65 million years ago. Shallow seas and a lack of significant marine predators created new niches for many reptiles that had developed on land, the magazine reports.