Researchers have identified prehistoric fossils found in Australia in the 1980s as those of a massive “swamp king” crocodile.
Scientists from the University of Queensland said the creature, named Paludirex vincenti, was more than 16 feet long and lived between 5.33 and 2.58 million years ago, the team told research journal PeerJ.
The name comes from the Latin for “swamp king” and Geoff Vincent, who found a fossilized skull of the large beast.
“The ‘swamp king’ was one intimidating croc,” Jorgo Ristevski, a PhD candidate at University of Queensland, said in the press release. “Its fossilized skull measures around 65 centimeters, so we estimate Paludirex vincenti was at least five meters long.”
Ristevski said the animal would dwarf the largest living crocodiles.
“Paludirex had a broader, more heavy-set skull so it would’ve resembled an Indo-Pacific crocodile on steroids,” he said.
Researchers said their next step is to determine why the creature went extinct while other crocodile species in Australia survived.