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Did crocs hunt T-Rex ???

Recently I came across an article about how the crocs must have been at the top of the food chain at the time of the dinosaurs and not the top Theropod (non-veggie dinos) predators like T-Rex or Allosaurus. Here’s the link to the article in THE ECONOMIST.

Few points first up:-

1)      I am one of the biggest fans of crocodile. As Charles Darwin put it – “Survival is of the fittest”. And who other than croc to prove that. After all, it is one of the few reptiles who survived the great K-T extinction (Their fellow archosaurs i.e. birds and testudines (or turtles) too survived).

2)      Whether or not crocodile was at the top of the food chain during the Mesozoic Era (251.1 – 65 million years ago), right now, it is an apex predator. On its day (especially in water where it is a force to reckon with), it can easily bring down any carnivore like Lion, or even Tiger for that matter who is in fact an expert swimmer.

But, then again I am not fully agreeable to the fact that crocodiles used to munch on T-Rexes or other big dinosaurs. Let us get some facts right first:-

1)      Dinosaurs alone (like many people think) or dinosaurs and crocodiles alone were not the only reptiles existing in the Mesozoic Era. Of course, we will discount the testudines or turtles. There were few others too:-

  1. Phytosauria, Rauisuchia and Rhynchosauria (these guys were veggies), all of whom were CROCODYLOMORPHA (superorder) or “LIKE CROCS”
  2. Pterosauria , the flying reptiles
  3. Ichthyosauria (The fish-like reptiles, the ones seen in ICE AGE 2)
  4. Plesiosauria ( Again, marine reptiles)

2)                  The big Theropods were not the only ones. As was said for crocodilians, they came in many shapes and sizes. There were raptors, like the famous Velociraptor and many others.

3)                  It is almost a proven fact that T-Rex and other big ones were not hunters but scavengers. Their heavy structure and short fore limbs or hands meant that they could not run fast as shown in the movies. Rather they would eat whatever is left of a large diplodocus after a pack of raptors have had their fill.

4)                  I, for one believe that each predator would have its own niche environment. If the Supercroc used to rule the Saharan swamps, it might have been some dinosaur (or maybe some croc) who would have ruled the southern part of Africa.

So, what I am coming to say is that we cannot just for a fact say that crocodiles were the top predators and hunted even the theropods. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, the crocodilians the author is referring to are not actually crocodiles and are just crocodylomorpha and not the direct ancestors of present day crocodile. Of course, even they were present as a part of crocodylomorpha. But again, even to assume that the Crocodylomorpha would rule the roost is too much to assume.

There would definitely have been lot of diversity and lot many diverse ecosystems back then just like today. So if the ornithopods (or the veggies) substitute for the present day herbivores and the theropods substitute for the present day big cats, the crocs or crocodylomorpha would have eaten only the ornithopods (and maybe some small theropods hear and there) and not all theropods. Even today the crocs make a meal of the herbivores without eating the carnivores. And sometimes, a big herbivore (like a hippo in water or elephant on land) is too much for a croc to handle. And throw in a bunch of water dwelling Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs, I am sure even they would have fallen prey to the crocodiles (can’t say for sure though – even they could have never co-existed).

In conclusion, looking at current crocodiles, it was pretty obvious their ancestors would definitely have been pretty aggressive hunters. But, unless we see crocodiles’s teeth-marks on theropod’s skull or vice- versa, we can safely assume that both were apex predators and were at the top of their respective food chains. It is not necessary that they eat each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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