Washington: A crocodile, more than 27 feet in length, large enough to swallow humans, once lived in East Africa, say researchers.
A team at the University of Iowa says the new species lived between 2 and 4 million years ago in Kenya. It resembled its living cousin, the Nile crocodile, but was more massive, the `Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology` reported.
"It`s the largest known true crocodile. It may have exceeded 27 feet in length. By comparison, the largest recorded Nile crocodile was less than 21 feet, and most are much smaller," Christopher Brochu, who led the team, said.
The researchers recognised the new species from fossils that he examined three years ago at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi. Some were found at sites known for important human fossil discoveries.
"It lived alongside our ancestors, and it probably ate them. We don`t actually have fossil human remains with croc bites, but the crocs were bigger than today`s crocodiles, and we were smaller, so there probably wasn`t much biting involved," Brochu said.
He said that there likely would have been ample opportunity for humans to encounter crocs. That`s because early man, along with other animals, would have had to seek water at rivers and lakes where crocodiles lie in wait, a university release said.
The crocodile Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni is named after John Thorbjarnarson, famed crocodile expert and Brochu`s colleague who died of malaria while in the field several years ago.