The four-foot-long creature possessed grazer’s teeth, a tank-like body and a short stubby tail. Most likely, they lived lives more like an armadillo’s than a conventional crocodile’s. Dubbed Simosuchus clarki, the species was first unearthed in 2000, and now appears fully described in a supplement to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
“No other crocodile looks as bizarre as this one,” says paleontologist David Krause of Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, part of the team that discovered d the species. “Crocodiles evolved into a wide variety of body plans in the Age of Dinosaurs, but this one really looks unusual.”
Krause and colleagues report six exceptionally well-preserved fossils of the pig-like crocodile found on the island of Madagascar. Analysis of the skull and teeth of Simosuchus led by Nathan Kley, also of Stony Brook U., confirms the creature’s shortened snout served for chewing vegetation, too weak to snatch up other animals. “He was a vegetarian, no doubt,” Kley says.