Did a crocodile eat a dinosaur?
Yes, a crocodile ate a dinosaur. Paleontologists at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum found a crocodile fossil and in its stomach (in its gut) was the remains of a dinosaur. This is very rare because it is the first evidence of a dinosaur predation in Australia – which means that a dinosaur was eaten. The dinosaur was the prey, not the predator. The crocodile was the predator.
Paleontologists are scientists who study fossil animals and plants. Fossils are life forms that existed thousands and millions of years ago.
The crocodile fossil was found in 2010 during an excavation (archeological dig) at Elderslie Station, near Winton, in western Queensland in Australia. The crocodile fossil was a near-complete skull and almost the whole skeleton – but the tail and the limbs (legs) were missing.
The palaeontologists found the crocodile fossil preserved in a soft siltstone concretion. When they did tests of the fossil, they found the dinosaur in its gut. The specimen and tests took many years to research and verify.
The palaeontologists called the crocodile specimen the Broken Dinosaur Killer (Confractosuchus sauroktonos) and announced the discovery and the name in the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum on 11 February 2022 and in the scientific journal Gondwana Research.
They estimated that the Broken Dinosaur Killer was about 2.6 metres (8.5 feet) long when it died. They think it roamed the Earth about 95 million years ago, which is during the Cretaceous period.
The dinosaur specimen was an ornithopod. Research Associate Dr. Matt White of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum said that the dinosaur inside the crocodile gut was a juvenile ornithopod – a young bird dinosaur. It weighed about 1.7 kilograms (3.7 pounds), so it was very small and very light.
The palaeontologists said that the crocodile’s tooth mark was left on the surface of one of the dinosaur’s femur bones – the thigh bone. The other femur bone of the bird dinosaur was broken in half.
Dr. Matt White said that there is no other global specimen to compare this new discovery with. He said that the discovery shows that the dinosaurs had an important role in the Cretaceous ecological food web.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
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