Named By: Price - 1964.
Synonyms: Carandaisuchus, Nettosuchus.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Crocodylomorpha, Crocodylia, Eusuchia, Alligatoroidea.
Species: M. amazonensis (type), M.arendsi, M. atopus, M. nativus.
Diet: Filter feeder/carnivore.
Size: Up to 12 meters long.
Known locations: South America, Peru.
Time period: Miocene.
Fossil representation: Several individuals represented by skull and mandible (lower jaw) material and teeth.
an estimated length of up to twelve meters long, Mourasuchus
was one of
the biggest crocodiles
of all time. However despite this size
Mourasuchus had a relatively weak jaw and skull
with quite small teeth for its size. These two things do not portray
an apex predator that wrestled large prey into the water, yet
whatever Mourasuchus ate it had to be in plentiful
supply in order for it
to grow so large.
With this in mind Mourasuchus may have been a filter feeder like another giant crocodile from Africa called Stomatosuchus. This would essentially involve Mourasuchus submerging or sweeping its jaws into the water and engulfing a shoal of fish. It could then contract its throat muscles to expel water out of the mouth while the teeth prevented its catch from being forced out, leaving Mourasuchus with a mouthful of food.
Mourasuchus was not the only giant crocodile living in South America during the Miocene, and may have on occasion been living in the same areas as the caiman like Purussaurus, and the gharial like Gryposuchus. However if Mourasuchus was indeed a filter feeder, then it may have been able to live alongside other large crocodiles like these without actually competing with them for the same food source. This could also be why Mourasuchus grew so large, because by doing so it could take itself off the list of potential prey items for these other two crocodiles.
|Deinosuchus (alligator-like crocodile).||Cretaceous/USA.||10-12|
|Gryposuchus (gharial-like crocodile).||Miocene/S. America.||10|
|Mourasuchus (alligator-like crocodile).||Miocene/Peru.||12|
|Purussaurus (caiman-like crocodile).||Miocene/S. America.||11-13|
|Rhamphosuchus (gharial-like crocodile).||Miocene/India.||8-11|
|3 of todays largest living crocs below|
|Alligator mississippiensis (American alligator).||Present/S. E. USA.||3.4 average - up to almost 6.|
|Crocodylus niloticus (Nile crocodile).||Present/Africa.||Average up to 5, largest up to 6.45.|
|Crocodylus porosus (Salt water crocodile).||Present/India, S. E. Asia, N. Australia.||Average 4-5.5, largest recorded 6-6.6, possibly slightly bigger.|
- Mourasuchus Price, Nettosuchus Langston, and the family Nettosuchidae (Reptilia: Crocodilia). - Copeia 1966 (4): 882–885. - W. Langston - 1966.