Identification: Suchomimus Common
name: Crocodile imitator
Age: Cretaceous
Origin: Niger

Suchomimus (literally “crocodile imitator”) is an extinct genus of large theropod dinosaurs belonging to the family Spinosauridae. It lived during the Aptian to Albian stages of the Lower Cretaceous, between 125 and 112 million years ago, in what is now Niger. The only species currently recognized is Suchomimus tenerensis, which was first described by paleontologists Paul Sereno and colleagues in 1998 from a partial skeleton discovered in the Elrhaz geological formation in the Ténéré desert (hence the name of the type species). Suchomimus is a relatively large theropod, with an estimated length of 9.5 to 11 m and an estimated body mass of 2.5 to 3.8 tonnes. However, the age of the holotype specimen is uncertain, so it is unclear whether these estimates would have been at their maximum. The narrow skull of Suchomimus is perched on a short neck and its forelimbs are powerfully built, bearing a large claw on each thumb. Along the midline of the animal’s back is a low dorsal sail, constructed from the long neural spines of its vertebrae. As with other spinosaurids, the animal was most likely a carnivore, with a diet consisting of fish, eels, rays, and other small prey.

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