Fossilized feces reveal monster croc could take down large dinos 79 mln yrs ago

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Washington, March 20 (ANI): Ancient bite marks and fossilized feces discovered in Georgia, US, have indicated that a giant crocodile that roamed the Southeast United States about 79 million years ago could take down dinosaurs its own size.

The giant reptile, called Deinosuchus, was up to 29 feet long and preferred living in a shallow water environment.

"We're sure (Deinosuchus) ate a lot of sea turtles, but it's evident it liked to prey on dinosaurs too," said Columbus State paleontologist, Professor David Schwimmer who recently completed two studies on the giant croc with one of his students, Samantha Harrell.

Schwimmer and Harrell gave a combined presentation on the bite marks and the fossilized dung, called coprolites, at the March 13-16 Geological Society of America Northeastern/South-eastern annual meeting in Baltimore.

The studies detail how bite marks on dinosaur bones discovered in various locations around the country, and large fossilized dung droppings discovered near Columbus, Ga., have been linked to the Deinosuchus.

The dung fossils are the first such documented samples from the Deinosuchus and help confirm the giant, ancient croc preferred living in the marine shallows. eanwhile, the separate bite mark findings reveal aspect of the creature's eating habits.

"In some cases, we're talking about a 29-foot Deinosuchus taking down a 29-foot dinosaur," Schwimmer said.

A likely victim, Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis - a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex - was discovered near Montgomery, Ala., and named in 2005 by Schwimmer and a pair of colleagues.

In spring 2009, Schwimmer asked Harrell to take command of a project as an independent study course to gather and analyze fossilized feces he had started to recover from a fossil hot spot along the banks of the Hannahatchee Creek in Stewart County, a major tributary of the Chattahoochee River, south of where the Piedmont meets the Coastal Plain.

Harrell worked with 20 samples of fossil crocodylian dung.

She attributed six of the large spindle shaped masses, 8-13 centimeters long, to Deinosuchus.

Harrell explained coprolites are studied in order to convey information about the lifestyles of the dead and buried.

She discovered sand and lots of shell fragments, signifying the crocs lived in a shallow, brackish, warm-water environment - likely near the mouth of a river where it opened to a sea with sandy shoreline and an abundance of sea turtles for its diet. (ANI)

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