Suchomimus

Suchomimus tenerensis

Last updated: July 13, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Michael Rosskothen/Shutterstock.com

It walked on two legs and leaned forward


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Suchomimus Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Family
Spinosauridae
Genus
Suchomimus
Scientific Name
Suchomimus tenerensis

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Suchomimus Conservation Status

Suchomimus Locations

Suchomimus Locations

Suchomimus Facts

Fun Fact
It walked on two legs and leaned forward
Biggest Threat
Carnivorous dinosaurs
Most Distinctive Feature
A long snout similar to a modern crocodile...with 122 teeth!
Distinctive Feature
It's tremendous size -- up to 36 feet long!
Diet
Omnivore
Favorite Food
Fish -- it was primarily, if not exclusively, pescatarian
Special Features
They may have had sail structures along their backs.

Suchomimus Physical Characteristics

Weight
3 - 5 tons
Length
Up to 36 feet

View all of the Suchomimus images!



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The dinosaur known as the “crocodile mimic” was incredibly fearsome in appearance.

This dinosaur could get up to 36 feet with a long snout similar to a modern crocodile. Fortunately for other dinosaurs, this dinosaur was a pescatarian and ate only fish. It lived 125 to 112 million years ago during the Aptian to early Albian stages of the Early Cretaceous Period in what is present-day Niger.

Suchomimus Species, Types, and Scientific Name

Suchomimus tenerensis is the only species within the Suchomimum genus. It is part of the Spinosauridae family, along with well-documented dinosaurs such as Spinosaurus and Baryonyx. Spinosaurids were theropod dinosaurs with hollow bones and three-toed limbs that mostly lived in the Cretaceous Period.

The Baryonyx is a genus of Spinosaurid that lived in Europe at the same time as the Suchomimus and shared many similarities with the Suchomimus. Some researchers believe that they were actually in the same genus and possibly even the same species of dinosaur. You may see them referred to synonymously, although the official classification still identifies them as two distinct species and genera.

Suchomimus belongs to the Theropoda clade, along with the other Spinosaurids. Other notable theropods include the Tyrannosaurus rex and the Velociraptor. See the full taxonomy below to find out how these classifications fit in with each other and the entire Animal kingdom.

Suchomimus

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
CladeDinosauria
CladeSaurischia
CladeTheropoda
FamilySpinosauridae (extinct)
CladeCeratosuchopsini (extinct)
GenusSuchomimus (extinct)
SpeciesSuchomimus tenerensis (extinct)

Description and Size

3D rendering of Suchomimus running in desert

Scientists believe that Suchomimus could grasp objects with its forearms.



©Elenarts/Shutterstock.com

Suchomimus was around 31-36 feet long and weighed between 3 and 5 tons. It was one of the larger Spinosaurids, but still not as large as the Spinosaurus. It had a long tail, which helped it balance since it walked on two legs and leaned forward. Its neck was short and heavily muscled. It had two forearms that were much shorter than the legs, but it may have been able to grasp smaller items, including other dinosaurs. Sharp claws on their front arms suggest that they used these to combat other animals or to tear apart prey.

Its spine had some elongated neural spines that may have supported sail structures. These were most prominent along its back. They were not as large or developed as those of Spinosaurus, although they were larger than those found in the Baryonyx. Researchers theorize that the Suchomimus may have had smaller sails. Another possibility is that the discovered specimen was not fully grown and that these sails further developed until they reached adulthood.

One of the most notable features of the Suchomimus is its long, crocodilian snout, which was low – well below its eyes. The snout was up to four feet long and accounted for a significant portion of its body. This dinosaur had 122 teeth. Although they were pointed, they weren’t sharp or serrated. This is one reason that scientists believe Suchomimus probably had a pescatarian diet. It also had a hard secondary palate in its mouth, which would have helped it maintain control over wiggling fish in the mouth.

Diet

With their long snouts, Suchomimus probably ate mostly fish. Its features helped them catch fish. These included the claws on their forearms, perfect for clutching fish. Their hard secondary palate could keep wriggling fish inside their mouths as they ate. The Baryonyx, which is closely related, was known to eat fish. Paleontologists even found the remains of fish scales in their stomachs. Based on that evidence and the similar features, they think that Suchomimus had a similar diet.

3D computer illustration of suchomimus in a forest displaying its formidable teeth

Despite its formidable teeth, Suchomimus was probably primarily, if not exclusively, pescatarian.

©Michael Rosskothen/Shutterstock.com

Suchomimus’ light, hollow bones probably made it difficult for them to dive down into the water to hunt for food, however. It is more likely that they found fish in shallow waters.

Dinosaur teeth tell scientists a lot about what these animals ate. The discovery of a full jaw of teeth was crucial to determining the diet of the Suchomimus. Their teeth were pointed but not particularly sharp. They also lacked the serrated edges common in carnivorous dinosaurs.

Most researchers believe that Suchomimus did eat some meat, likely more scavenging than actively hunting. Their teeth were not sharp enough to deliver a killing blow to most dinosaurs of the time.

Habitat

Suchomimus lived in the Early Cretaceous Period, between 125 and 112 million years ago. It lived during the Aptian geological period into the Albian period. Researchers analyze the rock formations and sediment around Suchomimus fossils to determine exactly when they lived.

These dinosaurs lived in present-day Niger in north-central Africa. A fossilized skeleton was discovered in the Elrhaz Formation. This rock formation dates back to the Early Cretaceous, around 112 million years ago. Based on analysis of the minerals found at the site, researchers believe that it was an inland freshwater environment during Suchomimus’ time. It probably had rivers and floodplains that provided food for Suchomimus. Other animals that flourished in that environment would have included fellow theropod Kryptops, herbivores in the Iguanidontia clade, and the ancient relatives of crocodiles, the Crocodylomorphs.

Threats and Predators

Suchomimus head shot 3D illustration on white background

Suchomimus had 122 teeth, but they weren’t very sharp, which was a disadvantage in defending itself.

©Catmando/Shutterstock.com

Carnivorous dinosaurs would have posed the biggest threat to the Suchomimus.

Its large claws probably helped Suchomimus fight off potential predators, but it was still vulnerable. It was large enough to be tough prey to take down but didn’t have the razor-sharp teeth that some other dinosaurs had.

Competition for resources was an ever-present threat to all dinosaurs, including Suchomimus. While they could probably eat both fish and meat, if there was a shift in available food, Suchomimus would have had trouble surviving. Its diet was more specialized than some other dinosaurs that lived longer or adapted.

Young Suchomimus

Suchomimus laid eggs to reproduce. Scientists do not know how many eggs a female Suchomimus laid at one time, but they know that the Suchomimus did lay eggs. Many dinosaurs were vulnerable to predators as eggs or as young, newly hatched dinosaurs.

Discoveries and Fossils

Suchomimus is a relatively new discovery, found and named in 1997 by paleontologist Paul Sereno. He initially found one of the powerful claws. As his team excavated the site, more remains of the fossilized skeleton were discovered.

3D rendering of suchomimus on white background

Parts of the Suchomimus forelimbs and hindlimbs were among the bones discovered in 1997.

©Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com

The Suchomimus holotype, the specimen that was used to describe the species, contains ribs and vertebrae, a shoulder blade, most of the pelvis bone, and parts of the forelimbs and hindlimbs. It does not include a skull. To analyze the skull, researchers used another specimen that included the snout, one of the key features of a Suchomimus.

Extinction

Researchers do not know exactly when or why the Suchomimus went extinct. All of the known specimens are from the Early Cretaceous, around 125 to 112 million years ago. This dinosaur had a specialized fish diet, similar to the Spinosaurus. Scientists theorize that this diet and the scarcity of food contributed to its struggle to survive. Perhaps because the Suchomimus did not adapt to changing food sources, it eventually went extinct.

Similar Animals to the Suchomimus

Other Spinosaurids were closely related to the Suchomimus and shared many similar features.

  • Spinosaurus: These dinosaurs were much larger than Suchomimus and had a much larger sail. They lived primarily in water during the Late Cretaceous Period.
  • Baryonyx: This smaller dinosaur shares so many similarities to Suchomimus that some scientists believe that it is actually a juvenile specimen of the same species. They also lived during the Early Cretaceous.

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

Suchomimus FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When did Suchomimus live?

Suchomimus lived during the Early Cretaceous Period. Fossils discovered date to between 125 and 112 million years ago.

How big was Suchomimus?

Suchomimus was around 31-36 feet long and weighed between 3 and 5 tons. Some researchers believe that the smaller Baryonyx was actually a juvenile specimen of the Suchomimus.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Prehistoric Wildlife, Available here: http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/s/suchomimus.html
  2. Natural History Museum, London, Available here: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/dino-directory/suchomimus.html
  3. Suchomimus Fact Sheet, Available here: https://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/dinosaurs/facts/Suchomimus/

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