15 Fierce Prehistoric Crocodiles You Need To Know

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 18th December 2023

Dinosaurs were the stars of prehistoric times, but alongside these reptiles lived another group of reptiles that were just as ferocious as their distant cousins—the crocodilians. 

Prehistoric crocodiles ruled on the edge of marine and terrestrial ecosystems millions of years ago. 

They evolved from the same ancestors as the dinosaurs but soon adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle, taking prey both on land and in the water. 

Ancient crocodiles were built to rule with an iron fist.

They had massive jaws that could snap shut with a powerful force, conical teeth that could rip off the flesh of prey within minutes, and several other unique adaptations from one species to the other. 

In this article, we’ll list 15 of the fiercest crocodiles to have ever lived. 

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15. Metriorhynchus

Metriorhynchus | Elenarts108 via Getty Images
Name MeaningModerate Snout
EraMesozoic — Jurassic Period
ClassificationPseudosuchia, Crocodylomorpha, & Thalattosuchia
Length4 to 5 meters (13–16 feet)
Weight220 kg (485 pounds) 

Metriorhynchus was a marine crocodile that lived during the Late Jurassic Period. 

But it looked nothing like modern crocodiles. 

The Metriorhynchus’ body was more streamlined, and it had flipper-like legs, which suggests that it spent most of its life (if not all its life) underwater. 

It also had a tail fluke that may have helped with swimming. 

To survive in its marine home, Metriorhynchus had salt glands. 

This massive marine reptile was about three meters (10 feet) long on average.

It preyed on plesiosaurs and other marine reptiles. But it probably ate fish and turtles as well. 

14. Baurusuchus

Life restoration of B. salgadoensis | Nobu Tamura via Spinops (CC BY 2.5)
Name MeaningNamed after the Bauru Basin in Brazil
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationPseudosuchia, Crocodylomorpha, & Notosuchia
Length3 to 4 meters (9.8 to 13.1 feet)
Weight113.4 kilograms (250 lb)
LocationSouth America

Baurusuchus was a terrestrial crocodilian genus that lived in Brazil and other parts of South America during the Late Cretaceous Period, about 95 to 85 million years ago. 

Unlike its water-dwelling relatives, Baurusuchus held its body above the ground on its long legs and was capable of moving swiftly on land. 

It lived on the plains of South America, hunting terrestrial prey of varying sizes. 

The crocodile’s laterally compressed teeth were effective for slicing through flesh to kill prey.

Baurusuchus grew to lengths of about three to four meters and may have weighed as much as 113.4 kilograms (250 pounds) on average. 

Baurusuchus lived alongside abelisaurid dinosaurs and may have competed with them for food. 

13. Dakosaurus

Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Dakosaurus Concept
Name MeaningBiter Lizard
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationPseudosuchia, Crocodylomorpha, & Thalattosuchia
Length4–5 meters (13–16 feet)
Weight200–275 kg (441–606 lb)

Dakosaurus was a bizarre crocodile that lived from the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous. 

Unlike its modern relatives that could venture on land, Dakosaurus was an exclusively marine predator, which means it spent all its life in the water. 

As a result, this crocodylian showed many adaptations similar to the marine reptiles of the Mesozoic, like the plesiosaurs, even though it was not related to them. 

For instance, the Dakosaurus’ limbs were modified into flippers which helped with navigation in the water. 

Dakosaurus grew to lengths of about four to five meters (13–16 feet). 

It had a massive skull that looked like that of terrestrial theropod dinosaurs. 

This suggests that the Dakosaurus hunted large prey and didn’t just survive on a fish-based diet.

12. Diplocynodon

Diplocynodon | Nobu Tamura via Spinops
Name MeaningDouble dog tooth
EraCenozoic — Palogene Period
ClassificationReptilia, Crocodilia, & Alligatoroidea
Length0.9 to 1.9 m (3 to 6.5 feet)

With a maximum length of about three meters (9.8 feet), Diplocynodon is smaller than some of the biggest crocodiles today.

It is a relative of modern alligators, but unlike its modern cousins that are restricted to the North American continent, Diplocynodon lived in Europe.

It was one of the few prehistoric alligators native to the continent. 

Diplocynodon was alive during the Miocene Epoch. 

One of the most interesting things about this crocodilian was its impressive body armor.

It had a tough, knobby body armor that covered its neck, back and entire belly. 

The genus name, which translates as “‬double dog tooth,” refers to the two fang-like canines of this crocodile which is one of its most distinctive features. 

11. Quinkana

Quinkana | Olorotitan via Deviant Art
Name MeaningDerived from the term “Quinkan” — A mythical monster  
EraCenozoic — Quaternary Period
ClassificationReptilia, Crocodilia, & Mekosuchinae
Length3 to 6 meters (10 to 20 feet)
Weight200 kg (440 lb)

Quinkana lived in Australia until about 100,000 years ago. 

With a maximum length estimate of about 6m (10 feet), this croc does not come close to the upper size limit of prehistoric crocodiles, but it was one of the largest predators in Australia when it was alive. 

The Quinkana looked considerably different from the modern crocodile species.

Its appearance is more similar to that of terrestrial crocodilian ancestors that lived during the Mesozoic era

Quinkana had long, agile legs positioned underneath its body, which suggests that it spent more time in terrestrial habitats, ambushing prey on land.  

Quinkana also had curved and sharp dinosaur-like teeth. 

This means it didn’t have to do the famous “death roll” to kill prey like other crocodiles.

The Quinkana’s teeth were effective for killing and cutting up prey on land. 

10. Mourasuchus

Mourasuchus | Photo via Dinopedia
Name MeaningFrom the word “Moura,” which refers to a supernatural being from Brazilian folklore, and “suchus,” meaning “crocodile” in Greek.
EraCenozoic — Palogene Period
ClassificationReptilia, Crocodilia, & Alligatoroidea
Length12 meters (39 feet) 
Weight4.4 tons (9700 lbs) 
LocationSouth America

With a length of up to 12 meters and weight estimates of up to 4.4 tons, Mourasuchus had everything to be considered an apex predator. 

The croc’s skull alone was over a meter (3.3 feet) long. 

Surprisingly, one of the biggest crocodiles of all time was probably not so much of a fierce predator. 

It had weak jaws and a dentition that looked more like it was adapted to filter-feeding than actively hunting prey. 

The croc’s dentition was made up of several small and conical teeth that interlocked perfectly. 

Mourasuchus lived in South America during the Miocene Epoch, and despite its weird diet, it would have been an intimidating sight to anyone that encountered it. 

9. Gryposuchus

An artist’s illustration of Gryposuchus pachakamue | Photo via Dinopedia
Name MeaningHooked Crocodile
EraMesozoic — Cretaceous Period
ClassificationReptilia, Crocodilia, & Gavialidae
Length10.15 meters (33.3 feet)
Weight1,745 kilograms (3,847 lb)
LocationSouth America 

Gryposuchus was a narrow-snouted crocodile that looked a lot like modern gharials.

It lived in South America during the Miocene Epoch, inhabiting coastal and freshwater ecosystems across the continent. 

Gryposuchus was one of only two freshwater crocodiles that lived in South America during the Miocene and was the biggest of them. 

The giant croc grew to lengths of about 10.15 meters (33.3 feet) and had a total mass of up to 1,745 kilograms (3,847 lb). 

The slender-snouted crocodile lived on a fish-based diet but may have also hunted other types of prey as well. 

8. Smilosuchus

S. gregorii and S. adamanensis compared to a human | Dr. Jeff Martz/NPS via Flickr
Name MeaningKnife Crocodile
EraMesozoic — Late Cretaceous
ClassificationReptilia, Phytosauria, & Parasuchidae
Length7 to 12 meters (23–39 feet)
Weight667 kg (1,470 lb) 
LocationNorth America

The Smilosuchus’ name has the same root as that of the saber-toothed cat (smilodon). 

That’s because it also had knife-like teeth in its jaws. 

But the Smilosuchus’ teeth were significantly smaller and not as impressive as that of the Smilodon

It lived during the Triassic before the first dinosaurs evolved. 

It was still a ferocious predator with length estimates that varied between 7 to 12 meters (23–39 feet). 

Smilosuchus had an extremely large skull that was up to 155 centimeters long.

In addition to the large tusk-like teeth in front of its mouth, Smilosuchus also had sharp blade-like teeth effective for slicing through the flesh of prey. 

7. Carnufex

An artist’s illustration of Carnufex carolinensis | Photo via Dinopedia
Name MeaningCarnivorous King
EraMesozoic — Late Triassic Period
ClassificationReptilia, Pseudosuchia, & Crocodylomorpha
Length3 meters (9.8 feet)
LocationNorth America

With a name like “Carolina Butcher,” it’s clear the Carnufex was a ferocious predator. 

It was an apex predator that dominated the eastern North American landscape before the first dinosaurs evolved. 

Carnufex lived during the Triassic Period, about ‬231‭ ‬million years ago.

It was a crocodylomorph but looked considerably different from modern crocodiles. 

This crocodilian was more similar in appearance to the dinosaurs that evolved later than other crocodiles. 

Carnufex was a bipedal predator, and it lived in terrestrial habitats rather than in the water like its close relatives. 

This reptile’s body was up to three meters (9.8 feet) long and stood at a height of about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet). 

6. Rhamphosuchus

Reconstruction of the giant Pliocene gharial, Rhamphosuchus crassidens | Apokryltaros via English Wikipedia (CC BY 2.5)
Name MeaningBeak Crocodile
EraCenozoic — Palogene Period
ClassificationReptilia, Crocodilia, & Gavialidae
Length8–11 meters (26 to 36 feet)
Weight2 to 3 tons (4,400 – 8,800 lbs) 

Rhamphosuchus was a massive crocodylian that lived in parts of the Asian continent, including India and Pakistan, during the Pliocene Epoch. 

Current estimates of this crocodile’s length put it at about eight to 11 meters (26 to 36 feet), but it was once thought to be bigger than this. 

Even by the latest estimates, it is still one of the biggest crocs to have ever lived. 

The Rhamphosuchus is considered a close relative of the modern false gharial

Like its living relatives, this croc had a narrow snout lined with several teeth that were effective for catching prey. 

Given its size, Rhamphosuchus was capable of killing large prey but may have fed on fish as a major part of its diet. 

5. Purussaurus

Restoration of Purussaurus brasiliensis | Nobu Tamura via Spinops
Name MeaningPurus River lizard 
EraCenozoic — Palogene Period
ClassificationReptilia, Crocodilia, & Alligatoroidea
Length10.3 meters (34 feet)
Weight5.16 tons (11,000 lbs) 
LocationSouth America

The dinosaurs and other large reptiles were long gone by the time the Purussaurus evolved during the Miocene Epoch, so it was an unchallenged predator with no major competition.

Expectedly it was one of the apex predators on the South American continent at the time.

A relative of modern caimans, Purussaurus was several times bigger than its modern cousins both in terms of length and weight. 

Purussaurus grew to lengths of about 10.3 meters (34 feet) and weighed up to 5.16 tons. 

It had a seven-ton bite force and fed on giant turtles, other crocodilians, and the massive mammals that lived in its South American ecosystem. 

4. Kaprosuchus

Kaprosuchus | MR1805 via Getty Images
Name MeaningBoar crocodile
EraMesozoic — Late Cretaceous Period
ClassificationReptilia, Pseudosuchia, & Crocodylomorpha
Length4–6 meters (13–19.7 feet)
WeightOne metric ton (2,000 lbs)

The Kaprosuchus is one of the fiercest-looking prehistoric crocodiles. 

It had three sets of large caniniform teeth protruding out of its lower and upper jaws like those of boar.

This is why the Kaprosuchus is often referred to as the BoarCroc.

It lived in present-day Niger, Africa, during the Late Cretaceous Period and was one of the apex predators on the continent at the time.

Kaprosuchus grew to a length of over twenty feet with a massive skull that was up to 60 centimeters long. 

The fossil record suggests that the Kaprosuchus was well-adapted to life in the water and on land. 

It was an efficient terrestrial predator, capable of venturing farther away from the water than its modern relatives, but could also hunt underwater.

3. Aegisuchus

Life restoration of Aegisuchus witmeri, a giant, flat-headed, ornamented crocodyliform from the Late Cretaceous of northern Africa. | Henry P. Tsai, University of Missouri via Plos One
Name MeaningShield crocodile 
EraMesozoic — Late Cretaceous Period
ClassificationReptilia, Pseudosuchia, & Crocodylomorpha
Length‬15‭ ‬to ‬22‭ ‬meters (50-72 feet) 
Weight10 tons (20,000 lbs) 

Aegisuchus is also known as the ShieldCroc, a reference to the bony boss of bone on top of its skull. 

This flat-headed crocodile lived in the freshwater system of Northern Africa back when the Sahara Desert was still a lush green landscape. 

It was alive during the Cretaceous Period, roughly 100 million years ago. 

Although only known from partial skull remains, Aegisuchus was probably one of the largest prehistoric crocs of all time. 

A full-grown adult could probably reach lengths of ‬15‭ ‬to ‬22‭ ‬meters (50–72 feet) based on a skull size of over 2.08‭ ‬meters. 

Given its size, Aegisuchus may have preyed on small dinosaurs, but it also ate fish and other reptiles as well. 

2. Sarcosuchus

Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Sarcosuchus Concept
Name MeaningFlesh crocodile
EraMesozoic — Early Cretaceous Period
ClassificationReptilia, Pseudosuchia, & Crocodylomorpha
Length9 to 9.5 meters (29.5–31.2 feet)
Weight4.3 tons (8,600 lbs)

The undisputed king of prehistoric crocodiles, the Sarcosuchus was one of the largest crocodilians to have ever lived. 

It grew to lengths of about 9 to 9.5 meters (29.5–31.2 feet) and weighed as much as 4.3 tons. 

The Sarcosuchus has been nicknamed “super croc” due to its massive size. 

Sarcosuchus lived in parts of North Africa and South America about 113 million years ago and was one of the fiercest predators of the early Cretaceous Period. 

It lived in an extensive river system, but some species of Sarcosuchus may have been capable of living in marine ecosystems. 

1. Deinosuchus

A profile view of Deinosuchus riograndensis | Sphenaphinae via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Name MeaningTerrible crocodile
EraMesozoic — Late Cretaceous Period
ClassificationReptilia, Crocodilia, & Alligatoroidea
Length10 to 12 meters (33 to 39 feet) 
Weight2.5 to 8.5 metric tons (5,511.56–18,739 lbs)
LocationNorth America (United States)

As strange as it might sound, there was once a crocodilian that ate dinosaurs for dinner. 

The Deinosuchus was bigger than any other predator living on the North American Continent 82 to 73 million years ago. 

The crocodile’s name translates as “terrible crocodile,” a fitting name for such a monstrous beast. 

With a whopping length of about 10 to 12 meters (35-39 feet) and a weight of about five tons, this dinosaur was up to two times heavier than some of the biggest tyrannosaurs of its day. 

Experts have found bite marks believed to have come from the Deinosuchus on various dinosaur fossil bones, which suggest that this crocodile actively hunted dinosaurs. 

It also ate sea turtles, fish, and types of prey both on land and in the water. 


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