DescriptionEditUnlike most giant theropods, Suchomimus had a very long, low snout and narrow jaws studded with some 100 teeth, not very sharp and curving slightly backward. The tip of the snout was enlarged and carried a "rosette" of longer teeth. The animal is reminiscent of crocodilians that eat mainly fish, such as the living gharial, a type of large crocodile with a very long, slim snout, from the region of India.
Suchomimus also had a tall extension of its vertebrae which may have held up some kind of low flap, ridge or sail of skin, as seen in much more exaggerated form in Spinosaurus. Detailed study shows that the specimen of Suchomimus was a subadult about 11 meters (36 ft) in length and weighing between 2.9t and 4.8t, but scientists think that it may have grown to about 12 meters (40 ft) long, approaching the size of Tyrannosaurus. The overall impression is of a massive and powerful creature that ate fish and presumably other sorts of meat (carrion, if naught else) more than 100 million years ago, when the Sahara was a lush, swampy habitat.
Discovery, naming, and taxonomyEdit
Chicago-based palaeontologist Paul Sereno and his team reported in 1998 that they had found fossils that represented about two-thirds of the skeleton of a huge meat-eater in the Tegama Bed of the Elrhaz Formation in Niger. They named the genus Suchomimus ("crocodile mimic") after the shape of the animal's head and the species tenerensis after the Ténéré Desert in which it was found. Suchomimus has been placed among the spinosaurids, a group of large predator-scavengers adapted for hunting fish and with less heavily-built skulls when compared to other similarly-sized theropods, like the tyrannosaurids. Apart from the back ridge, Suchomimus was very similar to the spinosaurid Baryonyx which also had strong forelimbs and a huge sickle-curved claw on its "thumb". And, as with Baryonyx, the claw was the first fossil part to be noticed by palaeontologists. Suchomimus was considerably larger than Baryonyx, but a few paleontologists have suggested that the latter might almost have been a juvenile of the former. It may also be a synonym of Cristatusaurus.
- Paul Sereno - Project Exploration Suchomimus Fact Sheet, at Project Exploration.
- Photos of Suchomimus Skeleton in Niger, at Project Exploration.
- Suchomimus from DinoDataca:Suchomimus
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