“The largest crocodilian today is the Indo-Pacific crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, which grows to about the same size. But Paludirex had a broader, more heavy-set skull so it would’ve resembled an Indo-Pacific crocodile on steroids.”

The fossilised skull of the

The fossilised skull of the Credit:Jorgo Ristevski

The first half of its latin name translates to “swamp king” while the latter pays tribute to the late Geoff Vincent, who discovered its skull – displayed in the Queensland Museum for years before its return to Chinchilla in 2011.

Mr Ristevski’s supervisor within UQ’s School of Biological Sciences, Steve Salisbury, said the two species of crocodile found in Australia today were not part of the endemic population on the continent from about 55 million years ago.

Dr Salisbury said attention was now being turned to what led to the prehistoric reptile’s demise. Whether this was due to competition with species like the Crocodylus porosus, or saltwater crocodile, was “hard to say”.

“The alternative is that it went extinct as the climate dried, and the river systems it once inhabited contracted. We’re currently investigating both scenarios,” he added.

The research has been published in the open-access journal PeerJ.

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