The bones of a 40-foot crocodile have been discovered in Cretaceous rocks of Niger, Africa, by researchers at Yale and the University of Chicago.

The team consisted of Hans Larsson, a postdoctoral fellow in Yale’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago, among others. Their findings will be published in the Oct. 26 issue of Science.

The crocodile, named Sarcosuchus imperator, weighed an estimated 16,000 pounds. The species was first described by a French team that found a partial skull about 30 years ago. In 1997 and 2000 three adult S. imperator skulls measuring 6 feet long were found by researchers.

“Our calculations in the Science paper estimate the total adult body length to be between 39 and 42 feet long, probably the largest crocodile known so far,” Larsson said.

The Cretaceous rocks in which the crocodiles were found are about 110 million years old.

–Yale Daily News