A brand new species of enormous prehistoric croc that roamed south-east Queensland’s waterways hundreds of thousands of years in the past has been documented by College of Queensland researchers.
PhD candidate Jorgo Ristevski, from UQ’s College of Organic Sciences, led the crew that named the species Gunggamarandu maunala after analysing a partial cranium unearthed within the Darling Downs within the nineteenth century.
“This is among the largest crocs to have ever inhabited Australia,” Mr Ristevski stated.
“In the meanwhile it is tough to estimate the precise total dimension of Gunggamarandu since all we’ve got is the again of the cranium — however it was huge.
“We estimate the cranium would have been at the least 80 centimetres lengthy, and primarily based on comparisons with residing crocs, this means a complete physique size of round seven metres.
“This means 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 in a position to digitally reconstruct the mind cavity, which helped us unravel extra particulars about its anatomy.
“The precise age of the fossil is unsure, however it’s in all probability between two and 5 million years outdated.”
Gunggamarandu belonged to a gaggle of crocodylians known as tomistomines or ‘false gharials’.
“At present, there’s just one residing species of tomistomine, Tomistoma schlegelii, which is restricted to the Malay Peninsula and components of Indonesia,” Mr Ristevski stated.
“Except for Antarctica, Australia was the one different continent with out fossil proof of tomistomines.
“However with the invention of Gunggamarandu we are able to add Australia to the ‘as soon as inhabited by tomistomines’ checklist.”
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 within the 1990s, however a proper examine was not performed till Mr Ristevski started his examination.
“I knew it was uncommon, and probably very important, however I did not have the time to review it in any element,” Dr Salisbury stated.
“The identify of the brand new species honours 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 massive, hole-like openings situated on high of the animal’s cranium that served as a spot for muscle attachment.”