Unlike most giant theropods, Suchomimus had a very long, low snout and narrow jaws studded with some 100 teeth, not very sharp and curving slightly backward. The tip of the snout was enlarged and carried a "rosette" of longer teeth. The animal is reminiscent of crocodilians that eat mainly fish, such as the living gharial, a type of large crocodile with a very long, slim snout, from the region of India.
Suchomimus also had a tall extension of its vertebrae which may have held up some kind of low flap, ridge or sail of skin, as seen in much more exaggerated form in Spinosaurus. Detailed study shows that the specimen of Suchomimus was a sub-adult about 11 meters (36 ft) in length, but scientists think that it may have grown to about 12 meters (40 ft) long, approaching the size of Tyrannosaurus. The overall impression is of a massive and powerful creature that ate fish and presumably other sorts of meat (carrion, if naught else) more than 100 million years ago, when the Sahara was a lush, swampy habitat.
Discovery, naming, and taxonomyEdit
In 1997, palaeontologist Paul Sereno and his team discovered fossils that represented about two-thirds of the skeleton of a huge meat-eater in the Tegama Bed of the Elrhaz Formation in Niger. They named the genus Suchomimus ("crocodile mimic") after the shape of the animal's head and the species tenerensis after the Ténéré Desert where it was found.
The holotype, MNN GDF500, was found in the Tegama Beds of the Elrhaz Formation dating from the Aptian. It consists of a partial skeleton lacking the skull. It contains three neck ribs, parts of fourteen back vertebrae, ten dorsal ribs, belly ribs, pieces of three sacral vertebrae, parts of twelve tail vertebrae, chevron bones, a shoulder blade, a coracoid, a forelimb, a pelvis side, and parts of a hindlimb. The vertebral column was largely articulated, the remainder consisted of disarticulated bones. Parts of the skeleton had been exposed on the desert surface and had suffered erosion damage. Additionally, several specimens have been assigned as paratypes: MNHN GDF 501, a snout; MNHN GDF 502, a quadrate; MNHN GDF 503, a dentary; MNHN GDF 504, a dentary; MNHN GDF 505, a dentary; MNHN GDF 506: an axis; MNHN GDF 507, a rear neck vertebra; MNHN GDF 508, a rear back vertebra; MNHN GDF 510, a tail vertebra; and MNHN GDF 511, a tail vertebra. The fossils are part of the collection of the Musée National du Niger.
The initial description of Suchomimus was preliminary. In 2007, the furcula, found during a subsequent expedition in 2000, was described in detail.