Eight million years ago, in what is now Alcoota, in central Australia, it is thought that a catastrophic event occurred leading to the death of hundreds of individual animals. While devastating for the individuals, it’s also an event that was followed by a process of fossilisation that has ensured we have a remarkable record of who lived in that place at the time, and who died in those moments.
In this episode of Palaeo Jam, recorded in the very place of its discovery, in the very week that its discovery was published, aside from getting a sense of what it was like in Alcoota eight million years ago, we get to learn about Baru iylwenpen, the single most complete known mekosuchine crocodile in Australia, if not the world.
The species name was taken from the Anmetyerre language, meaning excellent and skilled hunter. The fossils suggest Baru iylwenpen had the strength to prey on other megafauna such as the giant flightless bird Dromornis stirtini, also known as the Thunder Bird! Indeed, Baru iylwenpen was the largest and most dangerous predator that's found at the Alcoota fossil bed, and would have pretty much munched on whatever it wanted!
Here’s a link to the original paper on Baru iylwenpen…
Dr Adam Yates is the Senior Curator of Earth Sciences at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. He is a palaeontologist with a broad interest in extinct fauna of Australia and South Africa where he spent 8 years prior to joining MAGNT in late 2011.