"Terror crocodiles" which had teeth the size of bananas and could reach 33 feet in length once roamed North America preying on dinosaurs, according to a new study.
Researchers say the Deinosuchus, which means "terror crocodile", was the largest predator in its ecosystem when it roamed the earth between 75 to 82 million years ago, outweighing the largest predatory dinosaurs which existed at the same time.
The new study, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, revisited fossil specimens of the gigantic creatures and found the Deinosuchus had teeth “the size of bananas”, capable of taking down even the very largest of dinosaurs.
It also confirmed that the predators grew to as much as 33ft in length, making them nearly as long as some city buses.
Researchers also found that there were at least three species of Deinosuchus, two of which lived along western America from Montana to northern Mexico.
The third species lived along the Atlantic coastal plain from New Jersey to Mississippi, the researchers said.
"Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorised dinosaurs that came to the water's edge to drink," said Dr Adam Cossette, from New York's Institute of Technology and a co-author of the study.
"Until now, the complete animal was unknown. These new specimens we've examined reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas."
While the Deinosuchus is named after crocodiles, the study's authors said the genus actually more closely resembles alligators.
However its enormous skull and long, broad snout with two mysterious holes at the tip make it distinct from both alligators and crocodiles.
It is unclear how the Deinosuchus became extinct as they disappeared before the main mass extinction at the end of the age of dinosaurs.
The study's authors have called for more research to be done into the mysterious predator to establish how it met its end.