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Suchomimus

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suchomimus

Suchomimus (Luis Rey)

Name:

Suchomimus (Greek for "crocodile mimic"); pronounced soo-ko-MIME-us

Habitat:

Lakes and rivers of Africa

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (110 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 35 feet long and 5 tons

Diet:

Fish and meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, crocodilian snout with backward-pointing teeth; long arms; ridge on back

About Suchomimus:

A relatively recent addition to the dinosaur bestiary, the first (and to date only) fossil of Suchomimus was discovered in Africa in 1997. Its name, "crocodile mimic," refers to its long, toothy, distinctly crocodilian snout, which it probably used to snap fish out of the rivers and streams of the then-lush northern Sahara region of Africa. This dinosaur's relatively long arms, which it may have dipped into the water to spear passing fish, are another clue that Suchomimus subsisted on an aquatic diet. (See a gallery of Suchomimus pictures.)

Classified as a "spinosaur," Suchomimus was similar to a few other large theropods of the middle Cretaceous period, including (you guessed it) the gigantic Spinosaurus, probably the largest carnivorous dinosaur that ever lived, as well as slightly smaller predators like Carcharodontosaurus and the amusingly named Irritator. (The distribution of these large theropods across what is now modern-day Africa and South America lends additional evidence to the theory of continental drift; tens of millions of years ago, these two continents were joined together in the giant landmass of Pangaea.)

Because only a single, possibly juvenile fossil of Suchomimus has been identified, it's not clear what size this dinosaur actually attained as a full-grown adult. Some paleontologists believe Suchomimus may have reached lengths of over 40 feet and weights of over 6 tons, putting it just slightly below the class of Tyrannosaurus Rex (which lived tens of millions of years later) and the even bigger Spinosaurus. It's ironic that such a huge meat-eater subsisted on relatively small fish and marine reptiles, rather than plus-sized hadrosaurs and sauropods!

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