The swollen end of the snout houses an enormous cavity under the nostrils, meaning this croc may have had an enhanced sense of smell and a most unusual call. Its eye sockets project upward—like those of the living gharial in India—for scanning the river's edge while submerged. SuperCroc's skull, then, is like a cross between the elongate skull of a fish-eating gharial and the robust skull of a bloodthirsty Nile crocodile.
With the discovery on this expedition of several skulls, vertebrae, scutes, limb bones, and other assorted bits, we have amassed about 50 percent of SuperCroc's skeleton, enough to commission a life-size model. Our most complete skull is just shy of six feet. After measuring the bones and comparing them with those of modern crocs, we estimate that a mature adult Sarcosuchus grew to about 40 feet long. Its weight? As much as ten tons. Among the very largest crocs that ever lived, Sarcosuchus sprouted from a side branch of the crocodilian family tree separate from that leading to modern crocodiles.
Dwarf crocs we discovered living alongside Sarcosuchus represent other lineages that have come and gone. Extinction has trimmed the largest and smallest of the croc family. Yet unlike dinosaurs, crocs today are much as they were more than a hundred million years ago—masters at ambushing prey and one of Earth’s most persistent survivors.