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Prehistoric 'swamp king' crocodile of Australia was over 16 feet long, new study says

This ancient creature would have looked a lot like today's Indo-Pacific crocodile "on steroids," a researcher said.

Australian researchers dubbed a newly classified prehistoric crocodile "swamp king," believing it could have been as long as 16 1/2 feet and would resemble its modern day descendants if they were "on steroids."

Findings by Jorgo Ristevski, a doctoral student at the University of Queensland, and his colleagues were published this week the journal PeerJ.

Since 1886, researchers have called prehistoric crocodiles of that era Pallimnarchus pollens, based on fossil fragments found in southeastern Queensland.

The holotype specimen of Paludirex vincenti.Jorgo Ristevski

But fresh examinations of a partial skull found in the 1980s by Australian fossil collector Geoff Vincent showed enough new characteristics that it's the "basis to erect a new genus and species — Paludirex vincenti," according to the paper.

"Therefore, we named the new genus Paludirex, a name that my co-author Dr. Adam Yates came up with, which means 'swamp king' in Latin," Ristevski said in an interview with PeerJ. "The name of the species, vincenti, is in honor to the late Mr. Geoff Vincent."

University of Queensland researchers say the 'swamp king' would have grown to at least five metres in length.Jorgo Ristevski

Ristevski painted a picture of this terrifying beast that would have been one "of the top predators in southeastern Queensland during the Pliocene Epoch, between 5.33 and 2.58 million years ago."

"If you were to imagine Paludirex vincenti in life, it would probably have resembled an Indo-Pacific crocodile on steroids!" according to Ristevski.

The fearsome creature likely feasted on large prehistoric kangaroos and giant diprotodontid marsupials that lived near the lakes, rivers and swamps of southeastern Queensland.