Planet Earth

These Extinct Giant Crocs May Have Hunted Our Ancient Ancestors

Research uncovers two species of ancient crocodiles that might have preyed upon primates in what is now the Great Rift Valley in Africa.

By Sara NovakAug 25, 2022 10:00 AM
Snout of a Nile crocodile
(Credit: Roger de la Harpe/Shutterstock)

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Today, the Great Rift Valley spans from the lower tip of the Middle East all the way down to southern Africa. This dry swath of land is interspersed with grasslands that make up the African savannah. But it has not always been that way.

Some 15 million years ago, this part of the world — which would later become the cradle of humankind — looked entirely different. Much of the area was made up of dense tropical rainforests and humid woodlands that made it easier for predators to hide. One of the most dangerous was the giant dwarf crocodile, a vicious carnivore which likely had a taste for the primates that would one day evolve into hominids. 

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