95-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Discovered With a Dinosaur in Its Stomach

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

A group of paleontologists was left completely shocked after they discovered an actual dinosaur in the stomach of a 95-million-year-old crocodile.

According to All Things Interesting, the 95-million-year-old crocodile skeleton was found in Queensland, Australia. Matt White, an associate at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, led the research. “It’s just extraordinary. This is the first time that a crocodile has been discovered with dinosaur remains in its stomach. It’s a world first.”

The fossil was discovered in 2010 in the Winton Formation. A front loader started moving dirt from the site when the reptile’s remains were found. “You make the best discoveries when you break something,” White explained. He also shared that the front loader did damage the fossil. Upon examining the fossil, researchers made two findings. The first was that the 8-foot reptile appeared to be a previously undiscovered species. The other finding was it had remains of a small dinosaur in the stomach. 

Researchers then dubbed the crocodile “Confractosuchus sauroktonos,” which means, “broken dinosaur killer.” Researchers also used X-rays, CT scans, and 3D computer modeling to examine the bones, which were notably tightly intertwined. “The technology that we’re using is drawing new life into what we can see within these fossils,” White shared. “It’s going to change how things are done.”

What Kind of Dinosaur Was Discovered in the Crocodile’s Stomach?

White then revealed that the crocodile had eaten a dinosaur known as an ornithopod. This is a small, beaked, plant eater It lived 100 million years ago. “Ornithopods were very cute little dinosaurs,” White said. “Probably a little bit bigger than a chicken at about 1.2 kilograms. It would have looked something like Ducky from The Land Before Time. So you can imagine poor little Ducky crawling up onto the side of the bank and then a crocodile coming up and chomping it.”

White and his team also discovered that the crocodile had bitten one of the dino’s femurs in half. One femur had a scar from a tooth mark. While Confractosuchus would not have specialized in eating dinosaurs,” White continued.  “It would not have overlooked an easy meal, such as the young ornithopod remains found in its stomach.”

White also explained that the crocodile and its last meal, the dino, is going to provide clues to the relationships and behaviors of animals that were living in Australia millions of years ago. “Dinosaurs weren’t exactly top of the food chain,” White declared. “But were part of an intricate web of mammals, pterosaurs, birds, and crocodiles What we’ve been able to demonstrate is the direct evidence of [crocodiles’] food source and that they were able to eat anything that came close enough.”

White went on to add that the crocodile’s tail is missing.