Sarcosuchus imperator

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Rhunevild, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

Sarcosuchus is a relative of present-day crocodiles.


Sarcosuchus Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Sarcosuchus imperator

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Sarcosuchus Conservation Status

Sarcosuchus Locations

Sarcosuchus Locations

Sarcosuchus Facts

Small dinosaurs and marine reptiles
Fun Fact
Sarcosuchus is a relative of present-day crocodiles.
Large river systems

Sarcosuchus Physical Characteristics

29.5 to 31.2 ft

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Sarcosuchus is an extinct genus of crocodyliform reptiles that lived during the Early Cretaceous Period (about 95 to 115 million years ago). The giant reptile was the largest crocodile to have ever lived on the planet. It lived in an area now part of present-day Africa and South America. 

Description & Size

Sarcosuchus with fish in mouth

Sarcosuchus could grow up to 40 feet long and might have weighed over 10 tons.

©HombreDHojalata, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Sarcosuchus is a significantly bigger distant relative of present-day crocodiles. The name Sarcosuchus is the Greek word for “flesh crocodile.” In mainstream media, it has been nicknamed “SuperCroc,” which is a fitting name considering the massive size of this crocodyliform compared to today’s crocodile.    

According to estimates, adult Sarcosuchus was about 29.5 to 31.2 feet in length, and they weighed between 3.5 to 4.3 metric tons. Unlike modern crocodiles that attained full size at a specific age, Starcosuchus continued to grow at a steady rate, even as adults. Hence, they could achieve a length of up to 40 feet long and might have weighed over 10 tons.  

Sarcosuchus had a long snout that comprised up to 75% of the length of its skull. Their upper jaw was significantly longer than their lower jaws, creating an overbite that exposed some of the crocodile’s dentition. They had 35 teeth on each side of their upper jaw, while the lower jaw had 31 teeth on each side. 

Like all crocodilians, Sarcosuchus had thick, scaly skin. It had short legs and a long muscular tail which it used to propel itself through the water at high speed. One of the unique features of the Sarcosuchus is the large, broad knob at the tip of its snout known as a bulla. Experts are not sure of the purpose of this knob, but there are suggestions that it probably helped it to get a better grip on prey or to send out sound frequencies. 

Diet – What Did Sarcosuchus Eat?

Based on the size of Sarcosuchus’s snout and its dentition, experts have theorized that the diet of this crocodilian was similar to that of the Nile Crocodile. It had a varied diet consisting of almost anything it could overpower and kill. Sarcosuchus’s diet might have included large terrestrial prey, including the dinosaurs that were abundant in the same region. 

A more recent analysis of Sarcosuchus’s skull suggests that, unlike modern-day crocodiles, Sarcosuchus was probably unable to do the famous “death roll” maneuver. Hence, it would have needed a different method to dismember prey.

Nevertheless, it was a terrifying predator and an expert ambush predator. Evidence suggests that the super croc’s eyes moved up or down. This indicates that it likely spent most of its time partially submerged below the water surface, breaching the surface occasionally to snap encroaching prey and drag it into the water. 

Habitat – When and Where It lived

Sarcosuchus imperator lived in a region of the present-day Sahara desert known as the Ténéré Desert. At the time, approximately 112 million years ago, the area and the rest of the Sahara were an active aquatic habitat with many inland rivers and a humid tropical climate. 

Sarcosuchus lived in large river systems on what at the time was the joint continent of Africa and South America. They shared the rivers with ancient bony fish known as Lepidotus. They also lived alongside dinosaur species like Lurdusaurus, Ouranosaurus, and Nigersaurus.

Threats And Predators

Sarcosuchus was an apex predator in its freshwater habitat. Considering its size, no other animal that lived in the same region at the time would have been massive enough to feed on this dinosaur. However, some apex carnivore species lived around the same time in the same area, such as the Carcharodontosaurus and Spinosaurus. They would have competed for some of the prey species of Sarcosuchus.

Discoveries and Fossils – Where It was Found

Expeditions to the Sahara in the 1940s and 1950s yielded several large crocodyliforms in various formations in the area. These fragmented discoveries included parts of the skull, teeth, scutes, and vertebrae. It wasn’t until 1964 that the first almost complete skull was found in an area north of Niger. The recovered head is considered the holotype of this genus. Scientists identified it as Sarcosuchus imperator in 1966.

A few years later, a new species of Sarcosuchus was found in the Reconcavo basin of Brazil. It got the name Sarcosuchus hartti. The finding was used to reclassify two isolated teeth fossils that were discovered as far back as 1867 by American naturalist Charles Hartt that were initially assigned the name Goniopholis hartti. More recently, American paleontologist Paul Sereno found partial skeletons, including several skulls of the Sarcosuchus, in deposits of the Elrhaz Formation. 

Extinction – When Did It Die Out?

Sacrosuchus lived between 95 to 115 million years ago. The reason for their disappearance is not sure, but a number of theories have been put forward. At the time of their abundance, the Sahara desert where Sacrosuchus lived had a lot of freshwater bodies. However, the water levels began to dwindle with time as climatic conditions changed. The natural disruption in their natural habitat would have contributed to their decline. Other theories point to the growing populations of apex predators that competed for the same food or even preyed on young Sarcosuchus. It is also possible that dwindling prey populations caused a decline in their natural habitat. 

Similar Animals to Sarcosuchus

Similar dinosaurs to Sacorsuchus include: 

View all 292 animals that start with S

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Sarcosuchus FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When was Sacosuchus alive?

Sacosuchus lived about 95 to 115 million years ago (during the early Cretaceous period)

How big was Sarcosuchus?

On average, adult Sarcosuchus might have been between 29 – 31 ft in length and might have weighed between 3.5 and 4.5 tons. However, this reptile grew continuously throughout its lifespan, meaning it might have grown up to 40ft and weighed as much as 10 tons.

Is Sarcosuchus bigger than T Rex?

By some estimates, Sarcosuchus might have weighed up to 10 tons. Based on this size, it probably outweighed the Tyrannosaurus Rex. However, more conservative estimates of its weight put it at about 3.5 to 4.5 tons for average adults.

Is Sarcosuchus the biggest crocodile ever?

Based on fossil evidence, Sarcosuchus imperator, which is a species of the genus Sarcosuchus, is considered the longest and the heaviest crocodile to have ever lived.

Would Sarcosuchus beat the Titanoboa in a fight?

A fight between these two creatures would have been an epic battle, but the Titanoboa would have won eventually.

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  2. Dinopedia / Accessed September 9, 2022
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  4. BBB Science Focus/Sara Rigby / Published July 29, 2021 / Accessed September 9, 2022