Suchomimus: Dinosaur Facts and Figures

image of the dinosaur
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Suchomimus (Greek for "crocodile mimic"); pronounced SOO-ko-MIME-us


Lakes and rivers of Africa

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (120-10 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

Up to 40 feet long and six tons


Fish and meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, crocodilian snout with backward-pointing teeth; long arms; ridge on back

About Suchomimus

A relatively recent addition to the dinosaur bestiary, the first (and to date only) fossil of Suchomimus was discovered in Africa in 1997, by a team headed by the noteworthy American paleontologist Paul Sereno. Its name, "crocodile mimic," refers to this dinosaur's long, toothy, distinctly crocodilian snout, which it probably used to snap fish out of the rivers and streams of the then-lush northern Sahara region of Africa (the Sahara didn't become dry and dusty until a sudden shift in climate 5,000 years ago). The relatively long arms of Suchomimus, which it likely dipped into the water to spear passing fish, are another clue that this dinosaur subsisted on a mostly marine diet, perhaps supplemented by scavenging abandoned carcasses.

Classified as a "spinosaur," Suchomimus was similar to a few other large theropods of the middle Cretaceous period, including (you guessed it) the gigantic Spinosaurus, probably the largest carnivorous dinosaur that ever lived, as well as slightly smaller meat-eaters like Carcharodontosaurus, the amusingly named Irritator, and its closest relative, the western European Baryonyx. (The distribution of these large theropods across what is now modern-day Africa, South America, and Eurasia lends additional evidence to the theory of continental drift; tens of millions of years ago, before they broke apart, these continents were joined together in the giant landmass of Pangaea.) Tantalizingly, recent evidence that has adduced Spinosaurus as a swimming dinosaur may apply to these other spinosaurs as well, in which case Suchomimus may have competed for prey with marine reptiles rather than its fellow theropods.

Because only a single, possibly juvenile fossil of Suchomimus has been identified, it's not clear what size this dinosaur actually attained as a full-grown adult. Some paleontologists believe that adult Suchomimus may have reached lengths of over 40 feet and weights of over six tons, putting them just slightly below the class of Tyrannosaurus Rex (which lived tens of millions of years later, in North America) and the even bigger Spinosaurus. It's ironic, in retrospect, that such a huge meat-eater subsisted on relatively small fish and marine reptiles, rather than the plus-sized hadrosaurs and sauropods that surely must have inhabited its northern African territory (though, of course, this dinosaur wouldn't have turned up its elongated nose at any duckbill that happened to stumble into the water!)

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Strauss, Bob. "Suchomimus: Dinosaur Facts and Figures." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Strauss, Bob. (2020, August 27). Suchomimus: Dinosaur Facts and Figures. Retrieved from Strauss, Bob. "Suchomimus: Dinosaur Facts and Figures." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).