|Name Meaning||“Crocodile Mimic”||Height||3.6 meters (12 feet)|
|Pronunciation||Sook-oh-mim-us||Length||11 meters (36 feet)|
|Era||Mesozoic – Early Cretaceous||Weight||2.5 to 3.8 metric tons (2.8 to 4.2 short tons)|
|Classification||Dinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda||Location||Niger (Western Africa)|
Suchomimus is a dinosaur that lived in what is now Niger, Africa, during the Early Cretaceous period, dating from the Aptian to the Albian stages.
Suchomimus translates to “mimic crocodile” and is in reference to some of the crocodilian features this dinosaur showcased.
Suchomimus belonged to the Spinosauridae family and was one of the top predators of its time.
Spinosaurids were one of the most dominant dinosaurs to roam the earth and are known for the iconic sails many of them showcased on their backs.
The earliest spinosaurids date back to the middle Jurassic period and over time evolved to become the most dangerous predator in their home.
This article will cover Suchomimus, a crocodilian-like giant that dominated western Africa.
Before Tyrannosaurus dinosaurs became the king lizard in prehistoric times, spinosaurids were the apex predator other dinosaurs had to worry about.
Here is everything you need to know about the crocodile mimic, Suchomimus.
The name Suchomimus translates to “crocodile mimic” in Greek and references the shape of the dinosaur’s head.
Suchomimus was very different than other theropods, as it had a low snout and narrow jaws that looked similar to a crocodile.
In their mouths were 122 teeth that were not very sharp but curved to help them hold onto slippery prey.
Suchomimus was bipedal like other theropods and had an estimated body length between 9.5 to 11 meters (31 to 36 feet) long.
The skull alone of this dinosaur was massive and had a length of around 1.2 meters (4 feet).
Suchomimus had a weight estimated at 5.3 metric tons (5.8 short tons).
The fossils discovered of Suchomimus may have been inaccurately measured, and their size may differ since the age is also not known of the specimens found.
Suchomimus had a short neck, long legs, and strong arms with claws.
Unlike Tyrannosaurs, Suchomimus had three large claws for hands that measured up to 1 m (40 inches). These strong claws likely were used for hunting their prey.
While very large, when compared with other spinosaurids, Suchomimus was only medium-sized.
Spinosaurids are iconic dinosaurs recognized by their extremely large bodies and dorsal sails.
These adaptations could have been due to their semi-aquatic lifestyle.
Habitat and Distribution
Suchomimus was discovered in what is now Niger, Africa.
This dinosaur lived from the Aptian to the early Albian stages in the Early Cretaceous period.
Because of their appearance, scientists suggest spinosaurids like Suchomimus lived in sem-aquatic habitats.
Tidal flats and mangrove forests are habitats that were abundant in Africa during their lifetime.
Suchomimus lived in fluvial habitats with lots of floodplains and wetland conditions.
They visited the waterways of both coastal and inland sources. Spinosaurid dinosaurs mainly lived across North Africa.
Fossils from Spinosaurids have been discovered on every continent except North America.
North Africa is where spinosaurids were most common, and they adapted to the region’s large river systems.
Suchomimus and other similar dinosaurs with aquatic evolutions suggest that Africa was filled with a large river environment.
The region was very hot and graced by periods of heavy rainfall and flooding.
The sediment layer where Suchomimus was discovered was well-researched.
Interpretations have the area as a floodplain, with fast rivers and a tropical climate.
There would have been the seasonal dry period, as well as bouts of heavy rain.
Behavior and Diet
The Suchomimus had a long, and narrow snout, with hooked teeth that were used to hold onto slippery prey.
The build of its skull suggested this dinosaur primarily had a diet of fish and other aquatic life, similar to crocodiles.
Evidence of Suchomimus eating fish also comes from their very close relative, the Baryonyx.
The Baryonyx fossils discovered had fish scales in their stomach but also had bones of other dinosaurs.
The diet of Suchomimus was likely made up of mostly fish, but they could have scavenged and eaten larger dinosaurs.
In the region where Suchomimus lived there have been large fish fossils discovered, meaning the area had lots of large prey this dinosaur could eat like onchopristis, and mawsonia.
Suchomimus, while preferred fish, likely fed on other dinosaurs and were opportunist feeders.
Their size, strength, and teeth made it so they could have easily eaten land dinosaurs and even flying species like pterosaurs.
Studies into the bone density of animals across the animal kingdom suggest some spinosaurids could dive and hunt for prey underwater.
Suchomimus, compared to other spinosaurids, were not the best divers and hunted for fish by the shoreline.
Their bones would have been too light to dive, and their hunting probably occurred in shallow waters or by the shore.
Suchomimus, like other dinosaurs, is believed to lay eggs to reproduce.
There is a lot still unknown about the lifecycle of Suchomimus due to the few fossil specimens discovered.
The Spinosaurus is a relative of Suchomimus and had a lifespan estimated to be around 25 to 30 years, so Suchomimius can be expected to live for a similar period.
Suchomimus were dominant dinosaurs in their habitat but still had to protect their young and eggs from co-existing predators.
The sail on the spinosaurids are these dinosaurs’ most noticeable feature and resembles some of the sails seen on modern lizards like the sailfin dragon.
The sails of the Suchomimus could have been used as a sexual display to attract mates.
Other possible uses for their sail include controlling their body temperature, herding prey, or making them more efficient in moving the water.
In the future, with more studies and discoveries, many of the mysteries about Suchomimus may be solved with the work of paleontologists around the globe.
Evolution and History
In 1997 at the geological formation of Gadoufaoua, paleontologist Paul Sereno and his team discovered the first Suchomimus fossil.
In 1997 the theropod discovered was described, and the type species Suchomimus tenerensis was created and is currently the only known species of the genus.
Suchomimus is named in Greek after the crocodilian God Sobek, and their species name is in reference to the Tenere Desert, where it was found.
A large thumb claw was the first part of Suchomimus discovered, and only around two specimens have been discovered in total.
What is known about this dinosaur has been learned with the help of other similar dinosaurs.
Baryonyx is a similar dinosaur that has been compared with Suchomimus and has helped scientists learn a lot about spinosaurid dinosaurs.
Spinosaurids all have similar features to one another and evolved to have similar crocodile-like skulls.
A change in diet to more aquatic animals is likely what caused them to evolve to have similar traits to crocodiles.
Interactions with Other Species
Suchomimus lived alongside other theropods like abelisaurids and carcharodontosaurids.
Likely Suchomimus was one of the top predators in its habitat and preyed on other dinosaurs if it got the opportunity.
Since fish made up most of the Suchomimus diet, they likely did not go out of their way to hunt other larger dinosaurs.
Other known dinosaurs that lived in Early Cretaceous Niger Africa include:
Suchomimus played an interesting role in its environment since it was one of the most dangerous dinosaurs in its habitat but had a diet of mostly fish.
Suchomimus would have lived near water shores and likely was territorial of the areas they lived in.
In periods where there was little food in the water or drought, Suchomimus would have been more likely to terrorize and prey on other land dinosaurs.
These dinosaurs could have easily taken out other theropods or pterosaurs.
Suchomimus would be a dominant dinosaur, along with other spinosaurids, until later in the Cretaceous period when Tyrannosaurids would take their place.
Spinosaurids, like other large theropods, are some of the most beloved dinosaurs.
What makes this family of dinosaurs unique is the sails on their backs and crocodilian features.
Suchomimus are iconic dinosaurs, seen in many movies and video games like Jurassic Park.
Depictions of these dinosaurs in media may be inaccurate but help bring these prehistoric creatures to life.
Suchomimus was a very important discovery in helping paleontologists understand the diversity of predatory theropods that lived millions of years ago.
There have been several studies that help understand how dinosaurs evolved, including some diving into how crocodilian features can evolve in animals.
Suchomimus is one of the many known spinosaurids that lived in the Early Cretaceous period.
While only around 2 fossil specimens of this dinosaur have been discovered, they were important in helping paleontologists better understand the role that spinosaurids played in their environment.
The Cretaceous period in Niger was very wet, and the animals evolved to have traits to help them survive in their habitats.
When looking at Suchomimus, when compared with other theropods, it is easy to see the evolution traits they picked up, like their elongated snout and long bodies that would have helped them live in a semi-aquatic environment.
With time what is scientifically accepted about dinosaurs always changes, and there are always new studies bringing to light things previous paleontologists may have missed.
Fossils are the best tool we have in taking a look at how the earth looked millions of years ago.
With an age of around 4.5 billion years, the earth has been through several different ecological stages.
Suchomimus, like other dinosaurs, are known from the fossil evidence left behind.
As more discoveries are made in the future, there is a lot more to be learned about dinosaurs.
Is Suchomimus a relative of the crocodile?
Crocodiles are not a type of dinosaur but are related to them by being a part of the archosaur group.
Suchomimus evolved with crocodile traits since they live similar lifestyles, and the two animals are an example of convergent evolution.
Crocodiles not only look prehistoric but evolved around 200 million years ago during the late Triassic Period.
While Suchomimus is not a close relative to the crocodile, they still have many similarities in some aspects.
Was Suchomimus an apex predator?
Paleontologists suggest that Suchomimus was an apex predator in the area that it lived in.
Spinnosaurids were the dominant dinosaurs and had a strong presence in the habitats they lived in, similar to Tyrannosaurids and Allosaurs.
While Suchomimus’s diet consisted mostly of fish, this dinosaur had the size and strength to also take out other dinosaurs if it needed to.
When did Suchomimus go extinct?
It is not known exactly when Suchomimus went extinct, but all fossils from this dinosaur are only known from the Early Cretaceous period.
It is also not known why Suchomimus went extinct, but drought and a lack of food are theories as to what caused their demise.
Other dinosaurs evolving and outcompeting spinosaurids are also how they could have gone extinct.