A brand new species of massive prehistoric croc that roamed south-east Queensland’s waterways thousands and thousands of years in the past has been documented by College of Queensland researchers.
PhD candidate Jorgo Ristevski, from UQ’s Faculty of Organic Sciences, led the workforce that named the species Gunggamarandu maunala after analyzing a partial cranium unearthed in the Darling Downs in the nineteenth century.
“That is one of the biggest crocs to have ever inhabited Australia,” Mr. Ristevski mentioned.
“For the time being it’s troublesome to estimate the precise general dimension of Gunggamarandu since all we’ve is the again of the cranium – nevertheless it was large. We estimate the cranium would have been no less than 80 centimeters lengthy, and primarily based on comparisons with dwelling crocs, this means a complete physique size of round seven meters.
“This implies Gunggamarandu maunala was on par with the biggest Indo-Pacific crocs – a Crocodylus porosus) – recorded.
“We additionally had the cranium CT-scanned, and from that we have been capable of digitally reconstruct the mind cavity, which helped us unravel extra particulars about its anatomy.
“The precise age of the fossil is unsure, nevertheless it’s most likely between two and 5 million years outdated.”
Gunggamarandu belonged to a bunch of crocodylians known as tomistomines or ‘false gharials’.
“Immediately, there’s just one dwelling species of tomistomine, Tomistoma schlegelii, which is restricted to the Malay Peninsula and elements of Indonesia,” Mr. Ristevski mentioned.
“With the exception of Antarctica, Australia was the one different continent with out fossil proof of tomistomines.
“However with the invention of Gunggamarandu we will add Australia to the ‘as soon as inhabited by tomistomines’ record.”
Regardless of its discovery, the fossil cranium of Gunggamarandu maunala remained a scientific thriller for greater than a century.
The specimen piqued the curiosity of then-young graduate pupil Dr. Steve Salisbury in the Nineteen Nineties, however a proper examine was not executed till Mr. Ristevski started his examination.
“I knew it was uncommon, and probably very vital, however I didn’t have the time to check it in any element,” Dr. Salisbury mentioned.
“The identify of the brand new species honors the First Nations peoples of the Darling Downs space, incorporating phrases from the languages of the Barunggam and Waka Waka nations.
“The genus identify, Gunggamarandu, means ‘river boss’, whereas the species identify, maunala, means ‘gap head’.
“The latter is in reference to the big, hole-like openings situated on prime of the animal’s cranium that served as a spot for muscle attachment.”
Reference: “First document of a tomistomine crocodylian from Australia” by Jorgo Ristevski, Gilbert J. Value, Vera Weisbecker and Steven W. Salisbury, 9 June 2021, Scientific Studies.