This article is about a large predatory archosaur from the Bathonian stage of the Middle Jurassic age in Madagascar that is now stored at the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale in Milan.
Razanandrongobe is an extinct genus of carnivorous animals from the Ziphosuchian clade, that lived during the Middle Jurassic period in Madagascar, East Africa. It is the oldest known notosuchian (a group of crocodylomorphs) and was discovered in 1972, by some local collectors who found two tooth-bearing skull fragments projecting from the ground. Several other fossils belonging to the species were also discovered in the following year like fragments of a premaxilla and the lower jawbone of an individual specimen. Even though the species were discovered years ago, it was not formally described until 2017. It was named by Cristiano Dal Sasso and his colleagues and its name means 'giant lizard ancestor from the Sakalava region'. The remains of Razanandrongobe helped scientists clear several doubts and the 75 million-year-old gap in the group's evolutionary history.
Keep on reading to know more about this pre-historic creature. For more relatable content, check out these Palaeosaurus facts and Hungarosaurus facts for kids.
No, it was not a dinosaur but a large and predatory archosaur. Archosaurs come from the clade Archosauria and the only living representatives are birds and crocodilians.
The word Razanandrongobe is pronounced as 'rah-zan-drong-o-be'. The name was given to the species by Dal Sasso, C. Pasini, G. Fleury, and Simone Maganuco.
Analysis and studies conducted on this animal revealed that it has a long ghost lineage, but fills gaps about the Notosuchia group's evolution and other reptiles from the Jurassic era. The type species R. sakalavae is considered an enormous mesoeucrocodylian from the Middle Jurassic, and the oldest known notosuchian.
This large predatory archosaur lived during the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian) approximately 166.1-168.3 million years ago.
Scientists speculate they went extinct with other dinosaurs during the K-T extinction event.
Very little is known about the origins and evolutions of all members of notosuchians, including this animal. But since its fossils were discovered in Madagascar, scientists speculate that its geographical range was the same. Its geographic position during the period when Madagascar was separating from other landmasses suggests that it was of an endemic lineage. Fossils recovered also signal that the Notosuchia originated in southern Gondwana, in eastern Africa. Several parts of the fossil vertebrate were discovered by G. Cortenova, an Italian agronomist in the Mahajanga Basin which is now housed at the Museo di Storia Naturale di Milano (a museum in Milan).
A study of their fossil remains indicated that these animals could adapt to a variety of habitats, and some suggest that they lived in ecologies similar to predatory theropods.
Paleontologists believe that they live in solitary and occasionally in pairs.
The lifespan of this animal is unknown.
The process of reproduction in them is considered to have been the same as that common to reptiles such as present-day crocodiles, meaning they most likely were oviparous. However, this has not yet been confirmed.
Its snout and lower jaw were tall and robust, the fossil recovered clearly showed that the tip of the lower jaw was devoid of teeth. The teeth present in the side of its jaw were worn out, and a U-shaped chip was observed near the upper portion of the third crown, along with a thinner chip near the frontal edge of its tooth. Further studies conducted on the scanty remains also revealed that it was the largest non-marine member of the mesoeucrocodylia and Notosuchia overall (that lived during the Jurassic era). Many paleontologists have compared its body shape and teeth to the several members of the Baurusuchidae group to better understand the species..
The exact number of bones present in this creature is not yet known. It has been identified only from the partial upper jaw bones and other dentary fossils that consisted of a large isolated tooth crown along with other isolated teeth and fragments of several vertebrae which are currently housed and collated in the 'Atti della Società Italiana di Scienze Naturali e del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano' (a museum in Milan).
Remains of Razanandrongobe included only fragments of its dentary bones and partial upper jaw bones. Therefore, even communication between these animals that roamed the Earth about 168 million years ago is still a mystery but many scientists over the past decades have come up with several theories that suggest possible ways these animals communicated. Some put forth the theory of vocalizations and that they engaged in dialogue by producing calls, cracking sounds, body movements, and symbolic love calls during the mating season.
This animal was the largest member belonging to Notosuchia and grew up to 23 ft (7 m) in length. It can be compared to a Barinasuchus, as it was similar in size length-wise, except for its skull that was significantly larger than that of a Barinasuchus.
The speed rate of this creature is unknown however many suggest that even though it is often compared to crocodiles it may have been bipedal and had an erect stance, moving very differently than modern-day crocodiles.
The adult members of this genus weighed around 2,200 lb (997.9 kg).
It does not have any sex-specific names for its male and female members, they are simply denoted as males and females Razanandrongobe.
Since some theories suggest they laid eggs, a young baby Razanandrongobe can be referred to as a hatchling.
Paleontologists suggest that they fed mainly on aquatic and smaller animals. They had sharp teeth adapted to their diet and were highly predatory.
They were territorial and aggressive towards any invaders or competition, their behavior was similar to carnivorous theropod dinosaurs that lived in the same era.
Fabio Manucci is known for his work and illustrations made of this animal.
Popular local myths suggest that these animals are said to be ancestors of saltwater crocodiles, the largest crocodiles on Earth.
This animal from the Middle Jurassic era was named after its isolated teeth and a fragment of the jawbone. The specimens (holotype MSNM V5770) were described in 2006 as a new genus and species- Razanandrongobe sakalavae by Cristiano Dal Sasso, C. Pasini, and Simone Maganuco. The genus name is derived from the Malagasy words 'razana' and 'androngo', which collectively translates to the ancestor of a large lizard, the specific name 'sakalavae' is Latin for 'from/of Sakalava', which is a reference made to the regions it inhabited.
So far only one type species has been classified under this genus called, R. sakalavae.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other dinosaurs from our Metriorhynchus interesting facts and Gargoyleosaurus fun facts for kids pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Razanandrongobel coloring pages.
Main image by Fabio Manucci.
Second image by Kabacchi.