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Levi Lee
Levi Lee

Download CROCODILE PHYSICS 605 for Free and Simulate Physics Experiments on Your PC

Now we know a lot more about what crocodiles ate in the past, we can begin to construct a much more reliable diet for crocodylians. Most early crocodylians ate fish, and some branched out to reptiles, amphibians, even mammals. But most did not eat anything larger than themselves. However, if you consider that young crocodiles must have taken to the water long before their adult size or they would drown, that suggests that they had to consume fish in the size range of their own size at a young age. Clearly at some point (post Cretaceous), saltwater crocodiles evolved the ability to eat substantially larger fish, which they still eat, so I think that the Cretaceous crocodile was at least as large as modern saltwater crocodiles. Their bone density remains about the same, however, so their bones must not have gotten larger. Now the question, what did these massive, prehistoric crocodiles eat? We know that they are omnivorous, and much smaller dinosaurs were obligate carnivores. But even on a diet that is half fish, if a lion eats its weight in fish, how large can a crocodile be? My best guess is that they ate fish similar in size to themselves. And if fish are the only organisms in their environment, then fish must be the mainstay of their diet. That way they'd have a constant supply of food with a predictable energy content (even if their bones were not getting larger, as we know, they must have become large enough to eat much larger prey). And even if they ate some amphibians, they would have a steady source of protein.


The suggestion that the Cretaceous crocodile was more robust that extant saltwater crocodiles has been made by others, including in a recent paper (Sereno, Sallan and Samondok, J. Biol. Linguistics, 2013) that builds upon a previous paper (Sereno, Burgess and Huber, Science, 2012) that suggested that the Cretaceous crocodile was more robust (as the authors argue in the cited Science paper, "The Cretaceous lineages of the crocodyliforms were intermediate in craniodental robusticity between living crocodilians and theropods").


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