Rhamphosuchus

Name: Rhamphosuchus ‭(‬Beak crocodile‭)‬.
Phonetic: Ram-foe-soo-kus.
Named By: Falconer‭ & ‬Cautley‭ ‬-‭ ‬1840.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Crocodylomorpha,‭ ‬Crocodylia,‭ ‬Tomistominae.
Species: R.‭ ‬crassidens‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: 8‭ ‬to‭ ‬11‭ ‬meters long,‭ ‬although earlier estimates suggested that it may have been bigger.
Known locations: India.
Time period: Miocene.
Fossil representation: Several fossils of teeth with jaw and skull fragments.

       Rhamphosuchus is thought to have looked like a modern day false gharial,‭ ‬crocodiles that have proportionately thin and long snouts compared to other crocodiles.‭‬Rhamphosuchus itself however was much larger,‭ ‬although to what extent remains uncertain.‭ ‬This is because Rhamphosuchus is currently only known from very fragmentary material that makes reconstruction of the skull very difficult.‭ ‬This also makes sizing the full animal difficult because crocodiles are usually estimated by the size of their skulls in relation to other living crocodiles that a direct comparison can be drawn from.‭
       Early size estimates based upon the available material yielded an upper size between fifteen and eighteen meters long,‭ ‬something that would comfortably class Rhamphosuchus as the largest ever crocodile,‭ ‬up to one and a half times bigger than the famous Sarcosuchus.‭ ‬However Rhamphosuchus has since been re-studied with more modern techniques along with a broader understanding of crocodile forms,‭ ‬resulting in a smaller estimate of between eight and eleven meters long.‭ ‬This means that Rhamphosuchus is now considered to be smaller than other giants such as Deinosuchus,‭ ‬Purussaurus and the aforementioned Sarcosuchus.‭ ‬However Rhamphosuchus was still considerably larger than the largest known crocodiles today.
       Like the false gharial,‭ ‬Rhamphosuchus had a narrow snout with multiple teeth for prey capture.‭ ‬Gharials are usually thought to be piscivorous fish eaters that may also sometimes incorporate other prey.‭ ‬Rhamphosuchus could certainly have done the same,‭ ‬although its larger size meant that larger prey was on the menu.‭ ‬This does not rule out fish as a food source as we can often see fish that live in warm tropical waters also achieving large sizes in their own right.‭ ‬It‭’‬s even probable that the emergence and extinction of Rhamphosuchus occurred with a specialisation in large prey that subsequently disappeared.

How Rhamphosuchus compares with other giant crocodiles
Name Time/Location Size (meters)
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
Sarcosuchus‭ (‬crocodile‭). Cretaceous/Africa. 11-12
Stomatosuchus‭ (‬crocodile‭). Cretaceous/Egypt. 10
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.

Further reading
- Systematics and body size of the gigantic, enigmatic crocodyloid Rhamphosuchus crassidens, and the faunal history of Siwalik Group (Miocene) crocodylians. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21 (Supplement to No. 3): 59. - A. J. J. Head. - 2001.



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