Sereno and his colleagues accumulated about 50 percent of the bones in the Sarcosuchus. The skull came from an adult about 50 to 60 years old. The bones from younger animals had to be enlarged to be consistent with the size of the skull.
The most glaring omissions were the limbs and the tail tip. These areas weren't protected by the armor plates and tended to make particularly tasty snacks, said Sereno. That's probably why they are often missing from the fossil skeletons.
The length of the body was estimated based on the size of the skull. Sereno and colleague Brady Barr, National Geographic's reptile expert, measured Indian crocodiles and giant Costa Rican crocs to understand the relationship between head size to work out the likely total length of SuperCroc.
The riverbed in which Sereno found the Sarcosuchus skull has also yielded six other new species of crocodiles.
At the unveiling of the Sarcosuchus cast, Sereno opened a small wooden box to reveal the tiny skull of the "duck crocodile" which was also about 110 million years old. This is one of the smallest crocodiles that lived at the time.
To see Paul Sereno and Brady Barr's journey to flesh out the anatomy and behavior of Sarcosuchus watch SuperCroc, premiering around the world December 9, 2001. In the United States the show will air 8 to 10 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.
"National Geographic Channel presents SuperCroc" will be on exhibit at Explorers Hall from November 16, 2001, through January 2, 2002. A similar exhibit will be on display November 16, 2001, through January 27, 2002, at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
The exhibit includes fossil remains of the croc, including the full skull and original teeth found in the Sahara; a flesh model of the croc's six-foot-long (1.8-meter) head; and footage from the new National Geographic Channel film SuperCroc, which chronicles the excavation and efforts to recreate the giant croc.
National Geographic Today, 7 pm. ET/PT in the United States, is a daily news magazine available only on the National Geographic Channel. Click here to request it.
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