Tuesday, 3 December 2019


This well-preserved Miocene fossil crocodile is Gavialosuchus americanus lusitanicus, (Sellards, 1915) who lived in the area near Chelas, a locality near the airport in Lisbon, Portugal around 12 million years ago. When he was alive, that area of the world was flooded and home to Mastodons and other ancient animals.

This fellow was quite the beast. The complete crocodile would have been 8-9 meters in length. Crocodiles are reptiles, which means that they are cold-blooded, are covered in dry, scaly skin, and have a backbone. They are sometimes called ‘living fossils’ because they have been living on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs.

Although they have been around for millions of years, their bodies have not changed very much during that time because they are such successful predators. Unlike alligators, crocodiles have very pointed snouts, and their upper and lower jaws are the same size. Crocodiles have webbed feet, which makes them fast swimmers.

Their bodies are very streamlined, meaning they can slide quickly through the water to catch their prey. Their size depends on the crocodile species with some modern species growing to over 7 meters (23 feet) long and weighing about 1,000 kilograms or 2,200 pounds. This ancient specimen is now housed in the Geological Museum of Lisbon. He would have been bigger than his modern cousins and a formidable predator. Luis Lima recently had the pleasure of visiting their collections and shared this photo. The museum was built in 1857 and is home to beautiful paleontology, archaeology and mineral specimens. Should you find yourself in Lisbon, it is well worth a trip.