stomatosuchidae

Sotmatosuchis inermis

…was a very large (10m/32ft) stomatosuchid crocodilian from the late Cretaceous of Egypt. Unlike many other crocodyliforms it is largely unknown what exactly S. inermis ate. Its flattened skull had a long, lid-like snout which was filled with small conical teeth. Some theorize that the mandible might of been toothless and supported a pelican-like throat pouch. 

Sadly the only known specimen (a large skull, collected by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer) was destroyed when the Munich Museum was bombed in 1944.

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Reptilia-Crocodylomorpha-Neosuchia-Stomatosuchidae-Sotmatosuchis-S. inermis

Image: Dmitry Bogdanov

Crocodylo-Month, Day 19: Family Stomatosuchidae

Unlike their contemporaries, the notosuchids and the mahajangasuchids, the stomatosuchids were semi-aquatic in nature.  They were characterized by their bizarre jaws, which were quite long, broad, and almost perfectly flat.  The upper jaw was lined with small, conical teeth, while the lower jaw may have had no teeth at all.

Paleontologists are uncertain as to how these animals obtained their food.  Some paleoartists reconstruct them with pelican-like throat pouches, which they may have used to engulf multiple fish while swimming.  Alternatively, they may have waited motionlessly on the bottoms of rivers and lakes, waiting for small prey to wander into their jaws.  (Perhaps they lured in fish with an as-yet-unfossilized tongue lure!)

The first known stomatosuchid, Stomatosuchus, was discovered by Ernst Stromer - the same paleontologist who discovered Spinosaurus - on an expedition to Egypt in 1925.  However, the fossils were destroyed during an Allied bombing in World War II, and no further specimens of Stomatosuchus have ever been found.

In 2009, a related species - Laganosuchus, or “Pancake Crocodile” - was discovered in Niger.  Although much smaller than its more obscure relative - 20 feet long to Stomatosuchus’s thirty-plus - Laganosuchus is no less impressive, not to mention bizarre.  The discovery of Laganosuchus helps give more information on these strange and obscure animals.

(I could not find legitimate sources for the images in this post, but these animals are obscure enough that it’s hard to get good images of them.  Please let me know if you’re aware of the creators, and I will credit them at once.)