Among the fossils unearthed from the Lake Turkana Basin of Kenya, a new species of crocodile has been described in terrifying detail. In a press release, University of Iowa associate professor of geoscience Christopher Brochu describes the new Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni as big (up to 27 feet long) and hungry.
"It lived alongside our ancestors, and it probably ate them," Brochu says. He explains that although the fossils contain no evidence of human/reptile encounters, crocodiles generally eat whatever they can swallow, and humans of that time period would have stood no more than four feet tall.
"We don't actually have fossil human remains with croc bites, but the crocs were bigger than today's crocodiles, and we were smaller, so there probably wasn't much biting involved," Brochu says.
He adds that there likely would have been ample opportunity for humans to encounter crocs. That's because early man, along with other animals, would have had to seek water at rivers and lakes where crocodiles lie in wait.
We were once convenient, bite-size snacks for Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni. Perhaps we can take comfort in the fact that we got bigger while crocodiles have gotten smaller.
Top image from Lake Placid.
Image of ancient/modern crocodiles and ancient/modern humans from UIowa