As far as terrifying animals go, Australia is known for having the pick of the bunch. There are spiders, snakes and jellyfish, of course, but also crocodiles to watch out for. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, however, that we weren’t around when one particular crocodile emerged from the depths.
First unearthed in southeast Queensland in the 1980s, a prehistoric croc measuring over 16 feet (5 meters) has now officially been identified and named. The Paludirex vincenti, colloquially known as the “Swamp King,” was identified by a team of researchers from the University of Queensland.
According to Ph.D. candidate Jorgo Ristevski, from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences, the fossilized skull measured about 25.5 inches, or 65 centimeters, indicating a length of approximately five meters.
“The largest crocodylian today is the Indo-Pacific crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, which grows to about the same size,” he said. “But Paludirex had a broader, more heavy-set skull so it would’ve resembled an Indo-Pacific crocodile on steroids.”
The researchers are still investigating how this colossal croc may have gone extinct, but best guesses include challenges from other species of crocodiles — like the Crocodylus porosus and Crocodylus johnstoni that still exist today — or from climates drying up, leaving waterways unlivable for a crocodile of that size.